Wednesday 14 September 2016, 23:24

El Jaish make history as trio seal return to semi-finals

Former winners Jeonbuk Motors, Al Ain and 2013 runners-up FC Seoul all sealed their return to the last four of the AFC Champions League with aggregate victories, while El Jaish made history by booking their progression to the semi-finals for the first time. In the process, Jeonbuk put five unanswered goals past Shanghai SIPG at home to advance 5-0 on aggregate, while a solitary-goal win at Lokomotiv Tashkent ensured Al Ain a 1-0 aggregate victory. Despite drawing 1-1 at Shandong Luneng, FC Seoul progressed courtesy of their 3-1 first-leg win. El Jaish, meanwhile, made it through by following up their 3-0 awarded victory with a 1-0 away win.

Jeonbuk will meet FC Seoul in an all-Korean semi-final and it is old champions versus first-timers in the continent's west zone with Al Ain and El Jaish setting up a last-four clash. Join as we take a closer look at all the action from the quarter-finals.

The match  Jeonbuk Motors 5-0 Shanghai SIPG Leonardo and Lee Donggook each scored a brace as Jeonbuk thumped Shanghai SIPG 5-0 at home. The result, coupled with the two sides' goalless draw in the opening leg, saw Choi Kanghee's team progress to the last four in emphatic fashion. Having emerged as champions in 2006, the K-League giants are on course to win their second Asian title and to seal the return to the FIFA Club World Cup. Debutants Shanghai were, conversely, dealt with a tough blow which put their promising campaign to an abrupt end. Having shared the spoils in the first-leg encounter, Sven Goran Eriksson's visitors headed into the return leg aiming to continue their good run. Everything went just as they planned as they kept the relentless hosts at bay in a goalless opening half.

What appeared to be a fairly even contest in the first half then turned into a one-sided affair in a second half which produced a red card and five goals, including an own goal and a spot-kick—all in the hosts' favour. Needing a win to progress, Jeonbuk heaped the pressure on Shanghai after the restart. The breakthrough came on 52 minutes when Leonardo latched on to Kim Shinwook's short pass to break the deadlock. Shanghai responded soon with Wu Lei coming close with a one-on-one opportunity. But the balance was tipped against Shanghai when Shi Ke put through his own net. The visitors’ woes compounded with Lu Wenjun receiving his marching orders and in the closing stages, Leonardo completed a brace with a penalty before substitute Lee Donggook rounded off the memorable triumph with two late strikes.

The other attractions  FC Seoul came from behind to register a 1-1 draw at Shandong Luneng, a result which ensured them progression having won 3-1 at home. The 2013 runners-up were, though, made to sweat throughout a game largely dominated by the hosts. Indeed, Felix Magath's Shandong proved the brighter side throughout, bettering their rivals in both possession and shots on goal. Walter Montillo opened the scoring with a glancing header on the stroke of the hour to put the game on a knife's edge. Knowing a second would send them through on away goals, Shandong pressed forward hard with Hao Junmin flashing a drive just over the bar. But their hopes were dashed when Dejan Damjanovic laid off a superb ball for substitute Yun Jutae to equalise eight minutes from time. Shandong would throw everything forward in the remainder of the game but FC Seoul held on to advance 4-2 on aggregate.

New Brazilian signing Caio scored the only goal as Al Ain edged out hosts Lokomotiv by the slightest of margins to progress, having played out a goalless draw against the same opponents at home. Knowing that only three points could take them through, the Uzbek hosts came out firing. And with two-time AFC Player of the Year Server Djeparov bossing the midfield, Lokomotiv were the first to have sight on goal, but it was the visitors who opened the scoring against the run of play when Caio pounced on a rebound to score the match-winning goal seven minutes from the break.

El Jaish recorded a solitary-goal victory at Al Nasr with Brazilian striker Romarinho netting the match-winner. The victory, allied with the 3-0 win awarded to them by the AFC due to Al Nasr fielding an ineligible player in the first leg, saw the Doha giants progress 4-0 on aggregate and seal their maiden appearance in the last four. With a three-goal deficit to recover, the hosts attacked first but it was the visitors who took the lead. Seydou Keita set up Romarinho to volley home inside just nine minutes. That goal proved to be all El Jaish needed to make history and advance to set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with Al Ain.

The player  Dejan Damjanovic has rediscovered his old self upon his return to FC Seoul having spent two seasons in China PR. The Montenegro forward had enjoyed a successful five-year spell with the K-League side previously, playing a key role as they stormed into the AFC Champions League final in 2013 only to be edged out by Guangzhou Evergrande. He is the team's top-scorer with five goals this campaign as FC Seoul reacheed the last four. Despite failing to find the back of the net, he posed a constant threat for Shandong in the return leg before providing the assist for the equaliser which sealed their progression.

The stat **32 **- At 37, Jeonbuk striker Lee Donggook proved that he is still in his goal-scoring prime with his brace against Shanghai SIPG, extending his scoring tally to five this campaign. And it is his consistent form that becomes all the more significant considering that the evergreen striker has racked up a total of 32 AFC Champions League goals since 2010.

What they said "Our tactical style gave us this victory and sometimes we were lucky. My team tried to keep the result after we scored, it depended on us and we were able to do it. I have never lost in Uzbekistan and I am happy to continue this tradition," Al Ain coach Zlatko Dalic

Quarter-final second leg results *13 & 14 September *Lokomotiv Tashkent 0-1 Al Ain (0-1 aggregate) Al Nasr 0-1 El Jaish (0-4 aggregate) Jeonbuk Motors 5-0 Shanghai SIPG (5-0 aggregate) Shandong Luneng 1-1 FC Seoul (2-4 aggregate)