Kashima Antlers eliminate Hulk and Shanghai SIPG from Asian Champions League
Japan's Kashima Antlers booked their place in the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League on Wednesday evening, securing a 4-3 aggregate win over Shanghai SIPG despite losing 2-1 in their meeting in China on Wednesday evening.
With the win, Kashima qualified for the last eight of the competition for the first time since 2008 and won a tie in the knockout rounds for the first time since the Asian Champions League was created in 2002.
SIPG crashed out despite a brace from Brazilian Hulk, who returned from injury to lead the Shanghai attacking line in the absence of compatriot Elkeson.
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg in Japan last week, the Chinese side set out to make up the deficit quickly and Hulk opened the scoring on the night with just seven minutes on the clock.
But Shoma Doi's equaliser from close range three minutes before half-time complicated matters for Vitor Pereira's side and two fine saves by Kwon Sun-tae, first from Hulk and then Lu Wenjun, ensured Kashima kept SIPG at arm's length.
SIPG eventually claimed a second when Gen Shoji was judged to have handled a high ball into the area -- although television replays showed it had hit his head -- and Hulk scored from the spot.
It was too little too late for SIPG, however, and their exit means Tianjin Quanjian, who defeated Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday evening, are the only Chinese Super League team to feature in next Wednesday's draw in Kuala Lumpur.
"I'm very sorry that we lost today's game, but we have finally made it through to the next round and I'm very satisfied with that," said Kashima coach Go Oiwa.
"We played very well and if we had managed to score a second goal we would have been in control of the game. It's a pity we didn't, but I'm still satisfied and that we've finally managed to go through to the next round."
Suwon Bluewings also advanced as they handed Ulsan Hyundai a 3-0 defeat on Wednesday evening to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit in their all-South Korean meeting as Seo Jung-won's side join two-time champions Jeonbuk Motors in the last eight.
Iranian side Esteghlal have also gone through after they defeated compatriots Zob Ahan 3-1 on Wednesday to secure a 3-2 aggregate win and Qatar's Al Duhail thrashed former champions Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates 4-1 to complete a comprehensive 8-3 win overall.
The draw is completed by Iran's Persepolis and Al Sadd of Qatar, who secured their places in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch