In this photo, Go Young-joon of Pohang Steelers (L) is tackled by Yasuki Kimoto of Nagoya Grampus during the clubs' quarterfinal match at the Asian Football Confederation Champions League at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, on Sunday. (Reuters-Yonhap)
Pohang Steelers reached the semifinals of the top Asian club football tournament with a 3-0 victory over Nagoya Grampus on Sunday.
Lim Sang-hyub grabbed a brace and Lee Seung-mo added another for Pohang's convincing win in the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul. This will be Pohang's first trip to the final four at the AFC competition since 2009, which is the last time they won the tournament.
Pohang's victory guarantees that a South Korean club will be in the final next month. Sunday's second quarterfinals match for the East Region will pit two South Korean teams against each other, with the defending champions Ulsan Hyundai FC taking on Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
The winner of that showdown will face Pohang in Wednesday's semifinals back at Jeonju. Teams in the East Region, with clubs from South Korea, Japan and Australia, among others, are on the opposite side of the bracket from the West Region, which features teams from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, etc.
On the West Region bracket, Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal will meet in the all-Saudi Arabian semifinals on Tuesday.
Lim opened the scoring in the 53rd minute, scoring on a rebound after a mad scramble in front of the net following a corner kick. Nagoya goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak made the initial stop in a chaotic sequence, but the ball trickled to Lim, who made no mistake.
Pohang doubled their lead in the 70th minute. Shin Jin-ho sent a lobbing pass from midfield, and Lee Seung-mo got behind the defense before volleying it past Langerak.
During injury time, Lim put the icing on the cake by chipping the ball over the outstretched hands of Langerak.
Though Jeonju World Cup Stadium is home for Jeonbuk during the K League play, it is technically serving as a neutral venue for the AFC tournament.
The Asian football governing body has decided to hold East Region's quarterfinals and semifinals matches in South Korea to minimize traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic. All knockout matches, including the final scheduled for Nov. 23, will be one-and-done affairs. (Yonhap)