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Newcastle into AFC knockouts as Gamba lose
Published : 20 May 2009 15:53:00
SINGAPORE (AFP) - Australia's Newcastle Jets clinched a place in the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League Wednesday by edging Korea's Ulsan Hyundai 1-0, as defending champions Gamba Osaka suffered a shock loss. Just one final round of 16 spot is yet to be decided and it hinges on how China's Shandong Luneng fare against small-fry Sriwijaya later Wednesday in Group F. They must beat the Indonesians to secure second place in the group behind Japan's Gamba, who had already qualified despite losing Wednesday. If they do, Shandong and FC Seoul will both have 10 points but the Chinese champions will progress as they have a better head-to-head record against the Korean club. FC Seoul kept themselves in the hunt by upsetting Gamba in Japan, with a 90th minute goal from Kim Han-Yoon handing the visitors a shock 2-1 win, ending the J-League giants 16 game unbeaten run in the tournament. Takashi Usmai gave Gamba the lead in the 62nd minute before Dejan Damjanovic pounced to level the game 11 minutes later. It looked headed for a draw before Kim silenced the home crowd with his last-minute strike. So far, four teams from Japan and four from Saudi Arabia have made the grade, along with two each from Uzbekistan and South Korea and one apiece from Iran, Qatar and Australia. Newcastle booked their place with a first-half glancing header by midfielder Jason Hoffman and a brilliant defensive display that kept a dangerous Ulsan side at bay. The victory ensured they became only the second Australian side ever, behind Adelaide United, to progress to the business end of the tournament. Newcastle will now return to Korea to face Group H winners Pohang Steelers with a quarter-final place at stake. In the group's other match, Nagoya Grampus drew 1-1 with Beijing Guoan and now play Korea's Suwon Bluewings in the next round. Wednesday's west-zone matches will decide the first and second-placed sides in Groups A and B. Al Hilal, the 2007-08 Saudi champions, host Uzbek heavyweights Pakhtakor in Riyadh to decide Group A's top team, who will earn a home tie against Group C runner-up Umm-Salal of Qatar. The Group A runners-up face a trip to Dammam to face Group D winners Ettifaq of Saudi Arabia. In Group B, Iran's Piroozi host Al Shabab in Tehran with victory securing them top spot due to a better head-to-head record against the Saudi side. That clash is the only remaining Group B contest following the earlier withdrawal of Sharjah, who lost their first four matches and pulled out before matchday five to focus on avoiding relegation from UAE's top flight. West zone round of 16 games are played on May 27.