SINGAPORE — South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai eked out a narrow win and Uzbek champion Bunyodkor fought back to draw Adelaide United 2-2 as the AFC Champions League quarterfinals got under way Wednesday.
Ulsan had Brazilian striker Rafinha’s deflected shot to thank for its 1-0 first-leg victory over Al-Hilal, while Bunyodkor will have the psychological edge for next month’s return tie after rescuing a precious point in Adelaide.
Another Saudi side Al-Ahli played a goalless draw with Iran’s Foolad Sepahan in Isfahan.
In Wednesday’s late match, World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi’s Guangzhou Evergrande was to take on two-time champion Al-Ittihad in Jeddah.
In Ulsan, Rafinha found the net after nine minutes with a shot which took a wicked deflection off Hilal captain Majed Al-Marshadi on its way past goalkeeper Abdullah Mohammed. The Saudi visitors had their chances to level and Ulsan was grateful to goalkeeper Kim Young-kwang, who made a fine save at the death to deny Abdulaziz Al-Dosari.
Earlier in Adelaide, the Reds, finalist in 2008, had looked in command with a 2-0 lead after the first 18 minutes through goals by Iain Ramsay and Evan Kostopoulos.
But the match turned on an incident just before half-time, when Adelaide defender Nigel Boogaard was shown the red card for bringing down Kamoliddin Murzoev, who was through on goal with only keeper Eugene Galekovic to beat.
Jasur Khasanov scored directly from the resulting free kick with a brilliant left-foot strike to the top right-hand corner for the Uzbeks to trail 2-1 at half-time.
It was all Bunyodkor in the second half and they equalized in the 75th minute when Shavkat Salomov pounced on a missed clearance from defender Iain Fyfe to beat Galekovic from close range.
Bunyodkor could have taken a one-goal advantage to its home second leg in Tashkent on Oct. 3, only to be denied by a brave block from defender Antony Golec at the near post in stoppage time.
Bunyodkor, which has yet to beat Adelaide United in three meetings in this season’s competition, has two important away goals in its favor for the second leg to progress to the semifinals of the Asian showpiece.
“We played them off the park for the first 30-40 minutes,” Adelaide coach John Kosmina said. “But we did not take our chances and allowed them back into the game.
“We got a bit too complacent and comfortable at 2-0, but I am confident we can go over to Uzbekistan and get a result.”
The second legs will take place on Oct. 2 and 3. — Agencies