Jeonbuk prevail as Suwon stumble

Korea Republic’s two representatives experienced vastly differing fortunes in Wednesday's AFC Champions League semi-final first-legs, with Jeonbuk Motors coming from behind to edge hosts Al Ittihad 3-2, while Suwon Bluewings suffered a stunning 2-0 home defeat against Al Sadd.

The narrow win at Jeddah has left Jeonbuk with a crucial advantage heading into next Wednesday's return match at home however compatriots Suwon in contrast, will need to turn in a monumental effort in Qatar if there is to be an all-Korean final in 2011. Join as we review a drama-charged matchday.

The match
Al Ittihad 2-3 Jeonbuk Motors
The highly-anticipated encounter lived up to its tag as the 'champions' derby', with 2006 winners Jeonbuk narrowly prevailing over two-time victors Al Ittihad in a tightly contested match. The game got off to an explosive start with the opening goal arriving inside the first minute in the visitors' favour, Eninho catching Ittihad goalkeeper Mabrouk Zaid out with a deflected corner.

That lead, however, lasted just four minutes as Naif Hazazi got his head onto Sultan Al Numare's cross to draw the hosts level. The Saudi Arabia striker went on to put his side in front on 17 minutes when he collected the ball on the edge of the area, before unleashing a powerful left-footed shot into the back of the net.

With the Saudis seemingly content to defend their slim advantage, the Koreans came out like a house on the fire after the interval seeking to claw themselves back into contention. Their efforts paid dividends 11 minutes after the break when Son Seng-Jun latched onto Park Won-Jae's clever lay-back to restore parity, before captain Cho Sung-Hwan headed home Eninho's corner to seal a famous win with 13 minutes remaining.

The surprise
Suwon Bluewings 0-2 Al Sadd
In what turned out to be a feisty encounter during which three red cards were showed, hosts Suwon were on the wrong end of a 2-0 upset as the strongly-favoured Koreans went down at home against Al Sadd. Mamadou Niang was the two-goal hero for the visiting side with his second-half brace helping the Qataris to an upset win.

Coach Yoon Sung-Hyo's charges had the better of the opening half, with both Yang Sung-Min and Lee Sang-Ho coming close to giving Suwon the lead, before Park Jung-Jin saw his long-distance drive crash against the woodwork. At the other end, having survived some early scares, Al Sadd came into life with attacking duo Abdulkader Keita and Niang causing some anxious moments for the Koreans.

Desperate to break the deadlock, the home side heaped pressure on the Qataris after the restart. But it was the visitors that found the opener out of nothing on 70 minutes when Niang's seemingly harmless shot deflected into the net. The former Marseille striker then sealed the triumph with his second ten minutes later, only for controversy surrounding the lead-up to the goal resulting in a fracas which brought about the dismissal of Keita and Suwon's Stevica Ristic. Niang also received his marching orders in stoppage time for a second bookable offence, meaning the Qataris will have to make do without their entire strikeforce for the return next Wednesday.

The player
Eninho proved the driving force behind Jeonbuk's away triumph as the Brazilian set-piece specialist had a hand in all three of Jeonbuk's goals.

The stat
– The number of goals Jeonbuk have racked up so far, making the Koreans the tournament’s most prolific team with an average of 2.9 goals per match.

What they said
"Today's game was very disappointing but there is still hope. We will prepare as much as we can for the second leg. We earned a crucial away win in the previous quarter-final second leg so it is possible for us to repeat the triumph in Qatar," Suwon coach Yoon Sung-Hyo

2011 AFC Champions League semi-final first-leg results
19 October
Suwon Bluewings 0-2 Al Sadd
Al Ittihad 2-3 Jeonbuk Motors