Seongnam Ilhwa continued their impressive recent form to crush fellow South Koreans Suwon Bluewings 4-1 in the first leg of their AFC Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.
But while Seongnam made the most of home advantage, another K-League team, Jeonbuk Motors, failed to fire and now have a huge mountain to climb after losing 2-0 to Saudi giants Al Shabab.
Seongnam’s Macedonian target man Dzenan Radoncic opened the scoring in the eighth minute before Yeom Ki-Hun pulled one back for the visitors, who saw their nine-match unbeaten streak ended over the weekend in the domestic league.
Seven-time Korean champions Seongnam have a formidable front line and former Colombia international Mauricio Molina made it 2-1 just past the half-hour mark.
With former player Shin Tae-Yong now coaching the team and directing operations from the touchline, they furthered their advantage in the second half with Radoncic finding the net again in the 67th minute.
Song Ho-Young grabbed a fourth six minutes from time to leave Suwon with a mountain to climb in the return leg next week.
Jeonbuk Motors, the 2006 champions, also have their work cut out after Al Shabab got the better of them with second-half strikes from Fahad Hamad and recently-arrived Uruguay forward Juan Manuel Olivera.
It was an unexpected result for Al Shabab, who have made a poor start in the Saudi League and lie a lowly ninth after managing only one win from their opening four games.
Korean clubs have dominated the AFC Champions League this season, with four of them in the last eight, including defending champions Pohang Steelers who take on Zobahan in Iran’s Foolad Shahr Stadium later Wednesday.
Another Saudi side, Al Hilal, play Qatar’s Al Gharafa in the final game, amid reports this week that Sven Goran Eriksson could become their new boss when Eric Gerets leaves to coach Morocco’s national side.
Gerets is set to depart the Saudi powerhouse once their Champions League campaign ends.
The second legs are played on September 22, with the final at Tokyo’s National Stadium on November 13.
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