Shandong Luneng suffer 7-2 blow at Champions League
JEDDAH – Defending AFC Champions League champions Al Ittihad put reminded their rivals of their title credentials after annihilating Shandong 7-2 on Wednesday night, to advance to the semi-finals 8-3 on aggregate.
The quarter-final first leg in Jinan gave no indication of the goal-fest that was to follow a week later in Jeddah as Shandong maintained their unbeaten run after Li Xiaopeng had equalized for the hosts just six minutes after Al Ittihad skipper Mohammed Noor had given the defending champions a 48th minute lead.
Both teams showed just one change from the first leg as Al Ittihad’s Romanian coach Anghel Iordanescu preferring Ibrahim Sowed to Manaf Abushgeer on the left while his Shandong counterpart Ljubisa Tumbakovic replaced Iordanescu’s countryman Ionel Danciulescu with midfielder Song Lihui, leaving the lanky Han Peng to plough a lone furrow up front.
The home side had the early pressure and twice came close to taking the lead in the opening exchanges.
After making an early impact in the first leg with a robust challenge that led to a fourth minute yellow card, Saud Al Kariri was once again involved early on but this time it was for the right reasons when, in the third minute the Al Ittihad midfielder unleashed a spectacular long-range drive rattled Yang Cheng’s crossbar.
Three minutes later, an unmarked Joseph Desire Job, a slight doubt before the
match after picking up a slight thigh knock in training, tried to open his Al
Ittihad account with a flamboyant scissors kick when a simple header would
almost certainly have resulted in a goal.