The four K-League representatives at this year’s Asian Football Confederation Champions League had mixed results to their title pursuits this week, perhaps none as shocking as the reigning K-League champion’s loss Wednesday.
Two of the four, Pohang Steelers and Ulsan Hyundai FC, notched victories in their opening group matches on Tuesday, while Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma eked out an away draw with a last-minute equalizer on Wednesday.
But their feats were overshadowed by Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors’ 5-1 home defeat at the hands of Guangzhou Evergrande FC in Group H.
Jeonbuk, the K-League champion and the AFC runner-up last year, was helpless against Guangzhou, which won the 2011 Chinese Super League and was making its Champions League debut.
Brazilian striker Cleo and Argentinean midfielder Conca scored two goals apiece, while Brazilian Muriqui added another in the onslaught. Only a second-half score by substitute Jeong Shung-hoon prevented a shutout.
After an even start, Guangzhou took control with Cleo’s opening goal in the 27th minute, capitalizing on Jeonbuk’s botched clearance from its own penalty area.
The goal came just a minute after Cho Sung-hwan, Jeonbuk’s captain and defensive stalwart, was carried off the field following a hard tackle by Guangzhou’s Zhang Linpeng.
Lee Heung-sil, Jeonbuk’s head coach, blamed the stunning loss on the absence of his captain for most of the game.