Brazilian forward Hulk scored one goal and set up another as Shanghai SIPG won a megabucks all-Chinese clash 2-1 against Jiangsu Suning in the AFC Champions League’s last 16 on Wednesday.
Hulk made his muscular presence felt with a bustling performance which terrorised the Jiangsu defence and put Andre Villas-Boas’s SIPG in the driving seat ahead of next week’s return leg.
The 30-year-old Hulk, a 56-million-euro signing last year, was the pick of the expensively hired Brazilian talent on display, which also included Oscar, Elkeson and Jiangsu’s Alex Teixeira and Ramires.
However, Hulk was partly at fault for Jiangsu’s opener when first he and then defender Cai Huikang lost the ball, setting up Colombian striker Roger Martinez who rifled his shot home on eight minutes.
With China coach Marcello Lippi, who lifted the Asian trophy with Guangzhou Evergrande in 2013, watching from the stands, fierce tackles were flying in from both teams.
SIPG got their breakthrough when Li Ang brought down Hulk in the area and the barrel-chested Brazilian duly converted with a low shot which brushed the gloves of Jiangsu goalkeeper Zhang Sipeng.
Hulk had a fearsome volley tipped over before he created SIPG’s second in first-half injury time, showing quick feet before flashing a cross which cannoned in off the head of Uzbek midfielder Odil Ahmedov.
Hulk went close with a dipping shot earlier in the second half, before Martinez held off three defenders to put a shot just wide.
Hulk remained a handful but there was no further addition to the score as SIPG, currently second in the Chinese Super League, left the door open for a possible comeback from bottom-placed Jiangsu.
Earlier, in South Korea, substitute Jin Seong-Uk struck in injury time as Jeju United beat Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds 2-0 to seize control of their last-16 tie.
Marcelo Toscano nodded Jeju in front on seven minutes but the hosts had to wait until the dying moments before Jin added the gloss with a fine strike on the counter.
It put Jeju in prime position to oust Urawa, the 2007 champions, in next week’s second leg and further extend what is already their best Asian campaign.
Toscano, the mohawk-sporting Brazilian, got the opener on seven minutes when he met Hwang Il-Su’s diagonal ball with a firm header.
Jeju’s Magno Cruz rippled the side netting, curled another shot off-target and then put a rebound from his own header wide before he was replaced by Jin on the hour-mark.
Jin had a swerving shot blocked on the line but in the second minute of injury time, he wasn’t to be denied as he broke forward, checked and crashed his shot in off the left post.
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