Ulsan reach AFC Champions League quarterfinals, to face K League rivals Jeonbuk

SEOUL, South Korean football champions Ulsan HD FC advanced to the quarterfinals of the top Asian club tournament Wednesday, with a matchup against domestic rivals Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on the horizon. Ulsan defeated Ventforet Kofu 2-1 in the second leg of the round of 16 at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup at Japan National Stadium in Tokyo on Wednesday. Ulsan, who won the opening leg 3-0 last week, moved on thanks to a 5-1 aggregate win. In the two-legged quarterfinals, scheduled for March, Ulsan will face Jeonbuk. When Jeonbuk captured K League 1 titles in 2019, 2020 and 2021, Ulsan were the runners-up in all three seasons. Ulsan finally had their moment in 2022, winning their first league title in 17 years, while Jeonbuk ended up in second place. In 2023, Ulsan defended their title, and Jeonbuk finished in fourth, their worst performance since 2008. Following their comfortable win in the opening leg, Ulsan could afford to lose by two goals and still grab a ticket to the quarterfinals. And they opened the scoring in the 11th minute thanks to a fortuitous bounce. Um Won-sang's shot from the right side of the box struck the left goal post but bounced right back to Kim Ji-hyun, who managed to get a good shot off even as he slipped and fell to the pitch. The ball went into the gaping net for a 1-0 Ulsan lead. Ventforet Kofu took shot after shot, but it wasn't until the 88th minute that they finally solved goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo. Kazushi Mitsuhira headed home a corner taken by Iwana Kobayashi for the Japanese side's first goal of the knockout stage. But Ulsan didn't settle for a draw in the second leg, as forward Joo Min-kyu poked home a cross by Um to give the South Korean club a 2-1 lead during stoppage time. Joo also had two goals in last week's opening leg. Ventforet Kofu had 27 shot attempts and nine shots on target, compared with only seven shot attempts and three shots on goal by Ulsan. Source: Yonhap News Agency