Shanghai SIPG FC made it two wins from two matches in the AFC Champions League as their bench helped the Red Eagles beat Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-1 at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar on Sunday.
Jeonbuk's Brazilian forward Gustavo cancelled out Lu Wenjun's early goal for Shanghai, but the Chinese Super League outfit went to their attacking trio of Oscar, Hulk and Aaron Mooy from the bench at the break and nicked the crucial win against the South Korean champions.
The K League 1 club started strong but an error at the back allowed Lu to get behind the Jeonbuk defence to give Shanghai a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. Regaining composure, Jeonbuk struck back not much later when Gustavo turned in a Kim Bo-kyung cross.
After starting in their 2-1 win over Sydney FC three days ago, Hulk and Mooy were given some rest by Shanghai head coach Vítor Pereira while Oscar, returning from an injury, also featured among the substitutes. But with the score tied at the half, Pereira put in his formidable forwards.
Oscar and Mooy came on after halftime and were soon joined by Hulk just after the hour mark. The Brazilian duo turned the game around for the Chinese club as the two combined to win the penalty from which Hulk netted the winner in the 82nd minute.
It was Hulk who sent his compatriot Oscar through on goal with a ball forward and Jeonbuk centre-back Hong Jeong-Ho had to resort to a foul to bring down the former Chelsea man inside the box. Hulk, as cool as ever, sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to guarantee all three points for his side.
Jeonbuk have a mountain to climb after another defeat
Jeonbuk -- which came into the East Zone restart with high hopes after a brilliant domestic season which included league and FA Cup titles -- are now in a precarious position following a second defeat after three group fixtures. They lost to Japanese champions Yokohama F. Marinos in their opener in February before a stalemate with Sydney.
The two-time AFC Champions League winners have only one point to show from three matches and trail both Yokohama and Shanghai by five points despite playing an extra match. Jose Morais' side will now take on A-League champions Sydney in a crucial fixture on November 25 where they will need a win to keep their tournament hopes alive.
Meanwhile, Shanghai SIPG will continue their Asian campaign with a top-of-the-table clash against J.League 1 winners Yokohama on the same day.
Three-way battle in Group G heats up
Group G is down to three teams after Johor Darul Ta'zim FC was forced to withdraw from the tournament because the Malaysian government refused to lift a travel ban amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
South Korean's Suwon Samsung Bluewings were given a fresh lease of life after their defeat to JDT from earlier this year was voided, but a goalless draw against China's Guangzhou Evergrande on Sunday means they only have one point after playing two of the four matches in the pool.
2020 Chinese Super League runners-up were without Talisca and Paulinho, who will miss the tournament because injury, while Elkeson was only fit enough to make an appearance off the bench. But Fabio Cannavaro will not be panicking just yet as his side began their campaign with a point.
Meanwhile, former Asian champions Suwon and their head coach Park Kun-ha will be returning to the drawing boards hoping to regain their touch during an eight-day break before they face Guangzhou again on December 1.
By then, Guangzhou would have played group leaders Vissel Kobe of Japan twice and Suwon will know what they will have to do in their final two group stage games to stand a chance to make it to the knockout stages.