Former Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari failed in his bid Wednesday to steer new club Bunyodkor into the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League, with the Uzbek giants blowing their chance.
Bunyodkor came into the match against Korean FA Cup holders Pohang Steelers with a 3-1 first leg advantage, but the money-rich club were outplayed.
They were down 3-0 after a Kim Jae-Sung strike and Denilson brace and staring at defeat when Victor Karpenko hauled them out of trouble with a 90th minute goal to level the aggregate score and take the match to extra-time.
But with Bunyodkor’s star player Rivaldo looking every one of his 37 years, the Koreans deservedly booked their place in the last four when Stevica Ristic rose above two defenders to head the decider after 102 minutes.
It gave them a 4-1 home victory on the night and a 5-4 aggregate win.
The defeat will be hugely disappointing for Brazil’s Scolari, who was enticed to Tashkent in June and after being fired by Chelsea and is now reportedly the highest paid coach in the world, pipping Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.
Pohang’s reward is a semi-final against Qatar’s Umm Salal, who beat FC Seoul 4-3 on aggregate to deny an all-Korean semi.
The Qataris took a 3-2 first leg lead to Seoul and when Aziz Ben Askar scored for the visitors on 14 minutes they looked comfortable.
Dejan Damjanovic pulled one back for Seoul two minutes later but that was as far as they got with the match ending 1-1.
Japan’s Nagoya Grampus joined Pohang and Umm Salal in the last four after towering Australian striker Josh Kennedy pounced with three minutes left to give his side a 3-1 victory over fellow J-Leaguers Kawasaki Frontale.
Nagoya, trailing with a 2-1 away deficit from the first leg, levelled the aggregate when Yoshizumi Ogawa dribbled through midfield on a break and slammed in a 20-metre right-footer on 26 minutes.
Defender Maya Yoshida put the homeside ahead on 34 minutes by heading in a long free kick by Brazilian Allesandro dos Santos.
But Kawaski pulled one back on the break three minutes later as North Korean striker Chong Tese picked up a through ball from Renatinho and beat a Nagoya defender to ruffle the net past goalkeeper Koichi Hirono.
Kennedy, who moved from Germany’s Karlsruhe in June, put the game beyond Kawasaki in the dying minutes, slotting in a rebound off Brazilian Magnum’s shot.
“It was a very, very hard battle, a very good game of high quality,” said Nagoya’s Serbian coach Dragan Stojkovic.
“I think that both teams played very well. But finally, I’m very proud about my players, their performace and the result, of course.”
It was Nagoya’s first win against their rivals in 11 attempts.
They will face two-time champions Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia who defeated Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor 4-0 in Riyadh for a 5-1 aggregate victory.
Goals from Sultan Al Nemri, Amine Chermiti, Hicham Aboucherouane and captain Mohammed Noor sealed a comprehensive win.
The hosts broke the deadlock shortly before half time when Al Nemri headed home a powerful drive from Aboucherouane.
Chermiti claimed the second after 55 minutes with a volley into the back of the net and a header from Aboucherouane with 20 minutes to go put the result beyond a doubt before skipper Noor added a fourth five minutes later.
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