Just two minutes were needed to erase the deficit caused by Vagner Love's penalty kick and send the J-League side to the next stage of Asia's top club competition
BY DAN ORLOWITZ Follow on Twitter
With FC Seoul having already clinched a spot in the Round of 16, the remaining Group E participants, including Thai outfit Buriram United, all needed a win to break out of the three-team deadlock.
2011 quarter-finalists Cerezo headed into the match without starlet Takumi Minamino or manager Ranko Popovic, both of whom were ejected in last week’s 2-0 loss to Pohang Steelers.
With both teams finding opportunities early on, the deadlock was broken in the 18th minute when Shandong were awarded a penalty for Tatsuya Yamashita’s foul. Vagner Love then cooly converted from the spot to give the hosts a lead they would hold until the end of the first half despite several opportunities for Cerezo to equalize.
Their chance finally came less than half a minute into the second half, when some clever overlapping allowed Yoichiro Kakitani to burst through into the penalty area and lob a soft shot over Shandong goalkeeper Wang Dalei.
Two minutes later, Kakitani’s perfectly-placed cross landed in front of Uruguay international Diego Forlan, who calmly slotted the ball past several defenders and into the net.
After seeing their lead evaporate, Shandong re-dedicated themselves to the attack, with the Brazilian combination of Vagner Love and Aloisio leading the way.
Cerezo’s most perilous moment came in the 80th minute, when goalkeeper Kim Jin-Hyeon fell awkwardly on his back. Though he was able to stand up and continue the rest of the game, the 26-year-old was taken by ambulance to a local hospital after the match.
After finishing Group E in second place behind Pohang Steelers, Cerezo will face defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the Round of 16.