Hulk inspires Shanghai SIPG comeback in AFC Champions League
A virtuoso first-half display by Brazilian import Hulk earned Shanghai SIPG a place in the knockout rounds of the AFC Champions League on Wednesday evening as Andre Villas-Boas' side thrashed FC Seoul 4-2 to knock the South Koreans out of the competition.
Hulk outshone his compatriots Oscar and Elkeson in front of ecstatic home crowd at Shanghai Stadium.
SIPG join Urawa Red Diamonds at the top of Group F after the Japanese side notched up a 6-1 demolition of Western Sydney Wanderers as the 2014 winners were also eliminated. That leaves Shanghai and Urawa to fight it out for top spot in the group with one round of matches remaining.
Seoul, who needed a win to have any chance of keeping their hopes of qualifying alive, took the lead through Maurinho. His close-range effort was fumbled over the line by Yan Junling, but a thunderous strike by Hulk 16 minutes later levelled the scores.
Hulk turned provider six minutes later as Zhang Wei netted from close range, and Wu Lei headed home to give Shanghai a two-goal cushion going into the half-time break.
Park Chu-young reduced the deficit with a sliding finish with 20 minutes to go. But Shanghai bounced back, via Oscar, as the former Chelsea man stroked the ball home to give SIPG a deserved win.
Urawa, meanwhile, brought the curtain down on Western Sydney's season in emphatic fashion as Mihailo Petrovic's team handed the former champions an embarrassing 6-1 rout just two months after defeating the Australian side 4-0 in front of their own fans.
Rafael Silva scored twice after Takahiro Sekine, Zlatan Ljubijankic and Tadanari Lee had given Urawa a three-goal lead that was reduced by Wanderers' Japanese import Jumpei Kusukami in the 66th minute.
Shinzo Koroki put the icing on the cake for Urawa four minutes into added time as the 2007 champions secured their spot in the Round of 16 for the second season in a row while Western Sydney were eliminated three days after being knocked out of the A-League finals.
There was more good news for Japanese football in South Korea as Kashima Antlers trounced 2012 winners Ulsan Hyundai 4-0, with the loss meaning Kim Do-hoon's team cannot advance to the knockout phase.
A tepid first half ended goalless. But two strike from Mu Kanazaki, plus a pair of long-range efforts from Pedro Junior and Leo Silva, gave the J.League champions all three points as they aim to take one of the top spots available from Group F.
And Thai minnows Muang Thong United secured their place in the knockout stages with a comfortable 3-0 home victory over Brisbane Roar.
Former Newcastle United striker Xisco gave the Thailand champions a 37th-minute lead before late goals from national team stars Teerasil Dangda and Chanathip Songkrasin made sure of the result.
Brisbane played a virtual second-string side with one eye on Sunday's A-League semifinal against Melbourne Victory.