Urawa Red Diamonds will take a slender away goals advantage into the second leg of their AFC Champions League (ACL) semifinal meeting with Shanghai SIPG next month after Yosuke Kashiwagi cancelled out Hulk's stunning strike at Shanghai Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Hulk scored with a trademark long distance effort for the Chinese Super League side before Kashiwagi levelled to leave the game evenly poised ahead of the second leg at Saitama Stadium on Oct. 18.
SIPG, who can still complete a treble of league, Chinese FA Cup and ACL, started with Chen Wei in goal due to Yan Junling's suspension while Wang Shenchao was also excluded from Andre Villas-Boas' team.
The Portuguese fielded Elkeson at the tip of his attack for the first time since early August with the usual supporting cast of Hulk, Oscar and Wu Lei. It allowed SIPG to adopt their customary front-foot approach, pressing high up the pitch and seeking to force Urawa into errors deep into their own half.
SIPG took the lead in typical fashion a quarter of an hour into the game as Hulk once again proved himself the most effective player in his or any other team remaining in this year's ACL.
The powerful Brazilian cut in from the right onto his favoured left foot, bursting through the limp attempts of two Urawa midfielders to impede his progress. Then he lashed his low shot into the bottom corner of Shusaku Nishikawa's goal. The shot was as unstoppable as it was predictable.
Nishikawa palmed away Elkeson's attempt to double SIPG's lead.
A collision between the two Brazilians inside the area denied Shanghai another goal-scoring opportunity as Villas-Boas' team were dictating proceedings.
But Urawa hung on and, with SIPG's defence the team's long-standing weakness, the Japanese side were always likely to create chances of their own.
Two minutes before the half hour mark, the 2007 champions levelled when Kashiwagi steered his side-footed effort home after an intelligent layoff from the always lively Shinzo Koroki.
Oscar's deflected effort forced Nishikawa into action in the dying minutes of the half. The Urawa keeper was relieved to see Wu Lei's header from the resulting rebound somehow trundle wide of the goal. The Japanese side were second best, but holding on.
There was a similar pattern to the second half, despite Rafael Silva's attempt from a tight angle flying just wide soon after the restart.
Odil Ahmedov should have done better when he had time to pick his spot from 12 yards out while Wu Lei's point-blank effort could only find Nishikawa's midriff.
Oscar then curled a free kick around the Urawa wall, only to see the ball come back off Nishikawa's left upright.
Toshiyuki Takagi's slack back pass should have been punished by Wu Lei late in the game. But the China international steered his shot narrowly wide to leave the game evenly poised ahead of the return leg in Japan.