Shanghai SIPG maintain perfect ACL start, Jeonbuk left with solitary point

The ACL (Asian Champions League) has re-started again in Qatar and two of East Asia's big hitters faced each other in Group H. Shanghai went into the match on three points, while Jeonbuk re-commenced their campaign with just a point. 


Shanghai SIPG maintain perfect start to Group H

Shanghai went into the match against Jeonbuk with three points in the bag, after the opening day match against Sydney FC. The Chinese big hitters will be thinking that they're in with a chance of winning the competition again this year, as they do every year, but their two well-known players - Hulk and Oscar - started the match on the bench.

Giving the pair a rest looked to be a good decision early on, as a Lyu Wenjun goal, cooly slotted into the bottom corner from just inside the box putting SIPG one up. Maybe at that point, SIPG's manager VĂ­tor Pereira must have been wondering if he could rest the pair for their crunch clash against Yokohama F.Marinos.

However, that wasn't to be the case, Jeonbuk forward, Gustavo, scored by a combination of a sliding scramble, and a big ole toe punt. Jeonbuk is Korea's perennial champions and were right back in this match. A one they really needed to win, in order to throw the group wide open. 

Hulk and Oscar did get on the pitch, and both played a part in SIPG's winning goal. As Jeonbuk were pushing for a winner, SIPG wins the ball back, and the ball finds itself at the feet of Hulk, deep in his own half. He looked up and pinged a wonderful long pass right into the path of the on running Oscar. 

This is where things go awry for the Korean champions. As Jeong-Ho Hong comes charging in, in an attempt to clear the ball from danger, however, he bumps into Oscar who looked like he was auditioning for Brazil's Olympic diving team from the way he threw himself to the ground. 

After watching the replay a few times, Jeong-Ho Hong does barge into him, and Oscar was determined to milk it. Some will consider it soft, some justice served. Either way, it all made no difference to Hulk, who stepped up and smashed the ball home, to ensure his side run out 2-1 winner.  


SIPG on verge of qualifying, Jeonbuk in trouble

After the victory for Shanghai SIPG, they find themselves in a very good position going into their remaining four matches. Sitting comfy on six points, from two matches puts them in a very good spot, considering Jeonbuk and Sydney have both played three matches each, and both only have 1 point. 

If Jeonbuk and Sydney fail to get any points in their next match, then Shanghai SIPG will most likely be as good as through in my opinion along with Yokohama F.Marinos and Jeonbuk, on the other hand, would be as good as out. 

This gives SIPG some breathing room to have a mishap, whereas Jeonbuk finds themselves left with no margin for error. The ACL East Zone is shaping up for some exciting matches. As all matches are being played at Qatar in a biosecure bubble, it definitely raises the excitement levels, having all the games bunched so close together like they are now. 

It isn't possible to ever play this format in Asia due to the logistical issues and fans being unable to just 'pop to Qatar' from China, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and Japan, for a few days. This format is good for the 'Corona' no fans period though, and people stuck in lockdown around Asia will be happy (depending on if their teams are winning) that the Asian Champions League is finally back. 

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