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Ulsan, Vissel Kobe win Asian CL quarters

Former champions Ulsan Hyundai will face Japan’s Vissel Kobe on Sunday for a place in the Asian Champions League final after the two sides won their quarter-finals on Thursday.

Two first-half goals from Junior Negrao earned South Korea’s 2012 champions Ulsan a 2-0 victory over Beijing Guoan while Kobe needed a 7-6 penalty shootout win to sink Suwon Bluewings at Doha’s Al Janoub Stadium.

At stake is a place in the final on December 19, when the semi-final winners will take on Iran’s Persepolis, who qualified for the decider after coming through a centralised tournament featuring teams from the western half of the continent.

Kobe edged the shootout after their game against South Korean side Suwon ended 1-1 after extra time.

Jang Ho-ik sent his effort over the bar to leave Noriaki Fujimoto to hit the winner, sending Kobe into the last four on their debut appearance in the competition.

With former Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta starting on the bench for Vissel, Suwon went in front early as Park Sang-hyeok darted across the Kobe defence to glance a header beyond goalkeeper Daiya Maekawa.

Five minutes before the break the Japanese side were level after referee Adham Makhadmeh consulted with the Video Assistant Referee.

Having initially given Kobe a penalty, the Jordanian official awarded a free kick outside the area and sent off Kim Tae-hwan for a foul on Daigo Nishi. Kyogo Furuhashi converted the free kick with a low shot under the defensive wall.

Kobe, though, could not make their numerical advantage count and both teams hit the woodwork in extra time before the game went to penalties.

Ulsan advanced thanks to an impressive first-half showing, with Negrao opening the scoring from the penalty spot after Kim Min-jae had been judged to have handled.

The Brazilian doubled his side’s advantage in spectacular fashion with a 25-yard strike that curled away from goalkeeper Hou Sen’s dive.

Jonathan Viera tried to spark a response from Beijing in the second half, with the Spaniard hitting the post, but Ulsan kept the Chinese club at bay to progress to the semis for the first time since winning the title eight years ago.

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