Daegu top Champions League group to advance to round of 16
Daegu FC secured their spot in the knockout round of the AFC Champions League on Saturday, beating Lion City Sailors 2-1 at Buriram Stadium in Buriram, Thailand.
Daegu came from a goal behind to beat the Singaporean side, scoring two goals in the second half to hold on to the top spot in Group F.
Korea-born Singaporean footballer Song Ui-young opened the scoring for Lion City Sailors in the first half, picking up a deflection 20 yards out and hammering it into the net.
Daegu bounced back after the break, with substitute Lee Keun-ho scoring the equalizer. The chance came in the 54th minute when Hong Chul, who returned from suspension for the game, lifted a cross across the box and Lee headed it home.
Rain interrupted play 20 minutes later and the game had to be halted for an hour. Just minutes after returning from the deluge, Lion City were called out on a foul inside the box, giving Daegu a penalty and a chance to take the lead.
Zeca stepped up to the spot for Daegu, converting the spot-kick to hand the K League club a 2-1 win and ensure their spot in the round of 16.
The Champions League is divided into East and West divisions for the group stage and early part of the knockout stage. With eight teams advancing from the five eastern groups, only the top team in each group is guaranteed a spot. The three best second-place teams will also advance.
Alongside Daegu, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are also set to advance to the round of 16.
With one game left to play, Jeonbuk currently sit in second place in Group H on 11 points, one behind first-place Yokohama F. Marinos.
The two teams will face off on Sunday in a winner-takes-all clash, but even if Jeonbuk lose they will still have enough points to advance as one of the top-rated second-place teams.
Ulsan Hyundai and the Jeonnam Dragons, the two other teams in the continental tournament, have been eliminated.
Ulsan, winners of the 2020 Champions League, were eliminated on Saturday after losing 2-1 to Malaysian club Johor Darul Ta'zim.
The loss leaves Ulsan in third place in Group I on 10 points, one behind Kawasaki Frontale on 11 and three behind Johor in first place.
FA Cup winners Jeonnam Dragons held group leaders BG Pathum United to a 0-0 draw on Saturday. The draw leaves Jeonnam in third place in Group G, ending their tournament early.
As of press time, Jeonbuk and Yokohama are set to face off on Sunday at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The knockout stage of the 2022 AFC Champions League is scheduled to begin for the eastern division teams on Aug. 18.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]