Shanghai SIPG held to 1-1 draw by Urawa Red Diamonds

Author: AFPWed, 2017-09-27 18:12ID: 1506535175216077800SHANGHAI: Brazilian striker Hulk hit his ninth goal in the Asian Champions League this season but Shanghai SIPG failed to take their chances in a 1-1 semifinal stalemate with Urawa Red Diamonds on Wednesday.Andre Villas-Boas’ side will travel to Japan for the second leg on Oct. 18 very much in the tie, but they could easily have been out of sight.As has been the case so many times this season, the burly Hulk was Shanghai’s major threat, while former Chelsea star Oscar struck a post.Former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Villas-Boas said the tie was “completely open” despite conceding a crucial away goal against the run of play.“I’m so sorry to disappoint the media,” an irritated Villas-Boas said afterwards, his voice dripping with irony, after a Chinese reporter said free-scoring Shanghai had been expected to score more than the one goal.“We had 21 shots and the game could have been completely different.“We are a little bit disappointed, of course, but the second leg is completely open and we will have everyone back for selection for the second leg, which is very good.“They have the advantage of the away goal but we are a team that has scored so many goals that we hope to be able to score in Japan and cancel out the away goal.”The hosts wasted the first chance of the game when Hulk and fellow Brazilian forward Elkeson got in each other’s way in slapstick fashion in the 10th minute.Five minutes later it was 1-0 and again Hulk — leading scorer in the Champions League — was on the scoresheet, blasting the ball left-footed into the bottom corner from outside the box.Shanghai, who are pushing for a domestic and continental treble, then went close through Elkeson as they dominated.But the Chinese often look suspect in defense and missing two from their regular backline and their number one goalkeeper, all suspended, they allowed Urawa to equalize with their first opportunity on 28 minutes.Yosuke Kashiwagi did the damage, nipping in first time on the half-volley to stun the majority of the more than 30,000 at Shanghai Stadium.If the hosts were shaky at the back, so too were the visitors, who were playing in their away strip of marker-pen fluorescent yellow.Oscar, Shanghai’s Asian-record 60-million-euro Brazilian, had two decent chances just before the break as SIPG cranked up the pressure.The second period began as the first ended, Shanghai enjoying the possession and chances but Urawa threatening sporadically on the break.Oscar’s nearly night was summed up on 68 minutes when his free-kick bounced off a post.In the other semifinal, on Tuesday, Saudi giants Al Hilal took a giant step toward the final with a 4-0 thrashing of Iran’s Persepolis.
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