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AFC Champions League

  • April 23, 2014
  • • 19:00
  • • Luneng Big Stadium, Ji'nan
  • Referee: F. Al Marri
  • • Attendance: 26379
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Shandong Luneng 1-2 Cerezo Osaka: Forlan, Kakitani send Japanese representatives to knockout stage

Shandong Luneng 1-2 Cerezo Osaka: Forlan, Kakitani send Japanese representatives to knockout stage

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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


GOALBY    DAN ORLOWITZ     Follow on Twitter

A second-half comeback courtesy of two quick goals allowed Cerezo Osaka to advance to the AFC Champions League’s knockout stage with a 2-1 win at Shandong Luneng.

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.

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