South Korean club Suwon Samsung Bluewings were eliminated from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Tuesday despite a 3-0 victory over Shanghai SIPG in their final group match.
In rainy and windy conditions at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, the hosts routed group winners Shanghai, thanks to a double by forward Kim Gun-hee. The K League Classic club finished their Group G campaign at nine points with two wins, three draws and a loss, tied with Melbourne Victory in points, but it wasn't enough to secure a pass to the AFC Champions League (ACL) knockout stage.
Suwon and Melbourne had draws in both of their meetings, but the Australian club moved on as the second seed in Group G thanks to an edge in away goals scored, 1-0.
Suwon needed a combination of their win over Shanghai and Melbourne's draw or loss against Gamba Osaka Tuesday. Suwon took care of their own end, but Melbourne defeated Gamba 2-1 to end Suwon's dream.
Keeping their key players like Kwon Chang-hoon, Yeom Ki-hun and Santos on the bench, Suwon almost gave up the lead in just three minutes after the kickoff as Zhang Wei's shot just went wide of the net.
But Suwon, two-time ACL champions, went on the board first four minutes later when forward Kim Gun-hee was brought down by Yang Boyu in the box and was awarded a penalty. Kim then slotted his spot kick into the left side of goalkeeper Sun Le.
The Chinese club, also resting their core players and imports, tried to level the score with efforts from Zhu Zhengrong and Wang Jiajie, but none of them beat Suwon goalkeeper No Dong-geon. Suwon almost doubled the lead when left back Yang Sang-min's cross looped up towards the goal in the 43rd, only to go over the crossbar.
In the second half, Suwon threatened Shanghai with corner kicks and saw their fruit in the 52nd when Min Sang-gi headed down Jang Hyun-soo's corner to make it 2-0. Three minutes later, Kim Gun-hee notched his second goal of the match for a 3-0 lead, as his right-foot shot in the box found the net.
Suwon goalkeeper No then stepped up to deny shots from Lin Chuangyi in the 63rd and Li Haowen two minutes later. The South Koreans in the 72nd made their third substitution in the match, replacing goal scorer Kim Gun-hee with veteran defensive midfielder Cho Won-hee to lock down the victory.
Suwon continued to attack the visitors with Baek Ji-hoon's effort in the 84th and Min Sang-gi's header in the 85th, but couldn't add to their tally. Ko Seung-beom's shot from the distance in the extra time hit the crossbar.
Elsewhere, Pohang Steelers, already eliminated from the ACL, had a 1-1 draw against Urawa Red Diamonds at Saitama Stadium 2002 in Saitama, Japan, to wrap up Group H play.
Pohang, three-time ACL champions, finished last in their group with a win, two draws and three losses. Sydney FC topped the group with 10 points, followed by Urawa at nine. Defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande finished third in Group H with two wins, two draws and two losses. (Yonhap)