- A ten-recreation unbeaten run propelled Ulsan to Asian glory
- They will play on the FIFA Club World Cup for a second time
- Bitgaram, Iniesta, Junior Negrao and Qara dazzled through the marketing campaign
Ulsan painted Al Wakrah blue on Saturday. Trailing, Junior Negrao scored twice in a wild ten-minute spell to safe a 2-1 victory over Persepolis within the AFC Champions League remaining and e book the South Koreans a return to Qatar for February’s FIFA Club World Cup™.
The marketing campaign had been postponed after solely two rounds in March due to COVID-19. It resumed in September, with all matches performed in Qatar, and so they proved an actual deal with for followers.
Road to Qatar 2020
Ulsan had a sluggish begin within the marketing campaign, solely having their blushes saved by an personal-purpose in a 1-1 opening draw towards FC Tokyo in February. But Kim Dohoon’s costs emerged a distinct workforce when East Zone competitors resumed in November, successful the remaining 5 video games to progress as group winners. They went on to beat Melbourne Victory 3-0 within the Round of 16, earlier than seeing off Beijing Guoan 2-0 within the quarter-finals. They would come from behind to win 2-1 within the semi-remaining towards Vissel Kobe, earlier than one other comeback noticed them edge Persepolis to conquer Asia.
First match with spectators
Since the competitors’s resumption in mid-September, all matches had been performed in a centralised format and behind closed doorways. But with 30 per cent attendance allowed within the remaining, it noticed followers current for the primary time. Notable amongst these gracing the event had been FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his AFC counterpart Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
Lee tastes second success
Substituted on after 72 minutes, Ulsan captain Lee Keunho did what he might to assist his facet maintain their determined rivals at bay, efficiently holding out for a 2-1 victory. Eight years in the past, the 35-yr-outdated completed because the 2012 marketing campaign’s Most Valuable Player as Ulsan clinched their maiden title, performances which led to him incomes that yr’s AFC Player of the Year award.
Another close to miss for Persepolis
With Ulsan main 2-1 and the clock ticking down, Persepolis goalkeeper Hamed Lak was on his knees together with his head to the bottom praying for a miracle as his facet mounted what was their final assault. Unfortunately, the anticipated equaliser did not materialize, with Persepolis once more coming so shut to tasting their maiden AFC Champions League title, having misplaced to Kashima Antlers within the 2018 remaining.
Iniesta’s magic contact
Despite being 36 years outdated, Andres Iniesta confirmed he has misplaced none of his wizardry touches on the ball. Besides pulling the strings and driving the workforce ahead, he scored twice over the marketing campaign, notably opening the scoring in a Round-of-16 victory over Shanghai SIPG.
Tournament Most Valued Player Yoon Bitgaram proved the driving drive within the midfield all through Ulsan’s run to glory. The 30-yr-outdated Korea Republic playmaker scored two braces, supplied 4 assists and earned the primary-half penalty towards Persepolis from which Junior Negrao equalised.
The latter completed because the event’s joint-high marksman alongside Al Nassr’s Abderrazak Hamdallah (seven targets apiece). The 33-yr-outdated former Corinthians striker was significantly sensible within the knockout part, scoring 5 instances, together with twice within the remaining.
Deployed because the centre-ahead, 22-yr-outdated Abdi Mehdi Qara was a revelation for Persepolis through the knockout part, scoring the essential equaliser towards Al-Nassr within the semi-remaining earlier than opening the scoring towards Ulsan. It stays to be seen whether or not his predatory abilities will earn him a primary name-up by IR Iran coach Dragan Skocic.
Ulsan misplaced an entertaining recreation 3-1 to Monterrey on their Club World Cup debat at Japan 2012, with Lee Keunho getting their purpose. A 3-2 defeat by dwelling workforce Sanfrecce Hiroshima adopted within the match for fifth place.