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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Antlers, Grampus lose as Koreans clean up

AP

SEOUL — Seoul and Suwon Bluewings underlined South Korea's status as east Asia's pre-eminent league by comfortably beating Japanese opponents on Wednesday and progressing to the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League.

News photo
Hold me close: Nagoya's Josh Kennedy tries to escape the clutches of Suwon's Mato Neretljak on Wednesday night. KYODO

Korean teams have won the competition for the past two years, and Seoul's and Suwon's progress — along with that of Jeonbuk Motors on Tuesday — meant K-League teams are well placed to make it a hat trick, providing three of the quarterfinalists.

Seoul was a 3-0 winner over a prosaic and disappointing Kashima Antlers, which exited at the round-of-16 stage for the second straight season, while Suwon had a 2-0 victory over Nagoya Grampus.

That meant only one Japanese team — Cerezo Osaka, which beat neighbor Gamba Osaka 1-0 on Tuesday — will be in September's quarterfinals.

In Seoul, a cagey opening half only came to life in the closing stages.

The opening goal came in the 38th minute from a seemingly unthreatening position, but Bang Seung Hwan's speculative shot went through the legs of the covering defender and across the goalkeeper into the bottom left corner of the net.

The second goal, in the 55th, was impressive, with Uzbekistan international Server Djeparov breaking down the left wing and crossing to Montenegrin forward Dejan Damjanovic, who hit a sweetly struck volley past the helpless goalkeeper in the 55th.

Kashima rarely threatened, but should have been given a lifeline in the 71st when an apparently legitimate goal was incorrectly ruled offside.

Ko Myong Jin added a third on the break in the closing seconds. Antlers had committed all bar one outfield player forward for a corner, and when the ball was cleared, Ko capitalized.



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