Daegu, Gyeongnam miss out on round of 16

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Daegu, Gyeongnam miss out on round of 16

Daegu FC and Gyeongnam FC narrowly missed out on knockout berths at the continent’s top club football competition on Wednesday.

Daegu lost to Guangzhou Evergrande 1-0 at Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou, China, to close out Group F play at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League on Wednesday.

Daegu entered the action in second place in the group, two ahead of Guangzhou, and it only needed a draw Wednesday to reach the round of 16.

But Paulinho’s 64th-minute header stood as the winner for Guangzhou, who squeezed into the knockout stage as the second seed with 10 points, five behind Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Playing in its first AFC Champions League, Daegu finished third with nine points.

Gyeongnam, also making its AFC Champions League debut, was sent packing despite beating Johor Darul Ta’zim 2-0 at Changwon Football Center in Changwon, South Gyeongsang.

Gyeongnam, who began the day in third place in Group E, needed to win and for Kashima Antlers to lose to Shandong Luneng FC. Gyeongnam took care of its own business, but Kashima staged a second-half rally to beat Shandong 2-1 at home, with Sho Ito scoring both Kashima goals.

Gyeongnam ended in third place with eight points, two behind Kashima. Shandong won the group with 11 points.

At Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou was the more desperate team at the start, and it played like one in the first half, with a couple of close chances after the half-hour mark.

It took a spectacular save by Daegu goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo in the 35th minute to keep the match scoreless. Zhang Linpeng soared to meet a Huang Bowen free kick with his head, only to be denied by Jo diving to his right.

Three minutes later, Wei Shihao fired one from outside the box that bounced just wide of the right post.

Daegu’s best opportunity in the first half came in the 32nd minute, when Kim Dae-won’s hard right-footed strike went right at goalkeeper Liu Dianzuo.

Guangzhou spent the early part of the second half in the attacking zone, and its pressure paid off in the form of the opening goal in the 64th minute.

Huang took a corner kick from the left, and Paulinho got a piece of the ball with his head before Daegu defender Jeong Tae-wook headed it into his own net.

Though replays showed Jeong put the ball into the net, Paulinho was credited with the goal.

Now it was Daegu who needed a goal to advance. Three minutes after Guangzhou’s goal, Daegu forward Cesinha missed a volley to the right after a sharp cross by Kang Yun-koo.

With Guangzhou content to protect the one-goal lead, Daegu had trouble generating chances.

The home team started showing some cracks in the late moments, and Jeong Seung-won pounced on a mediocre clearing attempt to fire a shot that rolled wide to the left in the 82nd. Five minutes later, Tsubasa Nishi missed the open net with a volley from close range.

That would be the last opportunity for Daegu, who couldn’t get over the hump on the final day of the group stage.

At Changwon Football Center, Gyeongnam and Johor were scoreless after 45 minutes. Dutch striker Luc Castaignos broke the deadlock in the 65th minute by converting a headed pass from Lee Kwang-seon.

Over at Kashima Stadium, Shandong was nursing a 1-0 lead on an 11th-minute goal by Marouane Fellaini. But Ito pulled the home team even in the 68th and netted the go-ahead goal just two minutes later.

Takahiro Kunimoto rounded out the scoring for Gyeongnam during added time, but its fate was out of its hands.

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