Adelaide United have been defeated 1-0 by Chinese club Shandong Luneng in the final group stage of the Asian Champions League.
Despite dominating large parts of the match at Hindmarsh Stadium, the Reds were unable to hit the back of the net and went down to Li Wei’s 53rd minute strike.
Adelaide United: 0
Shandong Luneng: 1 (Li Wei 53’)
Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide
Yellow cards: AU - Mathew Leckie 38’, Michael Marrone 84’, Sergio van Dijk 90’, Adam Griffiths 90+2’
SL - Li Wei 18’, Gao Di 59’, Roda Antar 90+2’
Adelaide started the brighter of the two sides with more attacking play under no pressure as the Shandong defence sat and waited for the home side to push.
Sergio van Dijk was providing a few problems for the Chinese team with his strength and power in the air but Shandong were coping well and began to come into the contest after settling for the opening 15 minutes.
The 25th minute saw Shandong put their first real attempt on goal when Roda Antar played in Li Wei but his shot went straight into the waiting hands of Eugene Galekovic in Adelaide’s goal.
Minutes later, the Reds almost opened the scoring when Paul Reid let fly with a shot from long range down the other end but fortunately for the visitors it went wide of the mark.
Marcos Flores, Paul Reid and Travis Dodd were starting to heat things up a bit in centre of the pitch for Adelaide as the first half went on but nothing came of the Reds forward forays and both sides went into the break without a goal.
Just over two minutes into the second half, Adelaide came agonisingly close to a goal when Cassio played a lovely cross to Flores in the area but his header was knocked away by the Shandong defence although it was only cleared to Mathew Leckie who was unable to knock it past Yang Cheng in Shandong’s goals.
Moments later, the visitors took the lead against the run of play when Li Wei burst into the area, turned Robert Cornthwaite on a coin and thrashed it home with his left foot, giving Galekovic no chance.
The Reds were desperate to get back on level pegging and immediately sought out an equaliser as skipper Dodd tried his luck down the other end and then Leckie pushed forward with urgency and took a shot from way outside the area which swung wide.
The goal definitely kicked the Reds into gear as they went on the attack for the next 15 minutes, mainly down the left through Cassio, but the Chinese outfit were holding strong at the back as they began to ring the changes with goalscorer Li Wei and Ma Long making way for Xia Ningning and Fred Benson.
With 20 minutes remaining, Adelaide squandered another chanced when Cassio again supplied the ball from the left but Dodd’s header was actually blocked by van Dijk who was in the wrong place at the wrong time to keep out the captain’s attempt on goal.
Shandong were able to keep things tidy at the back despite plenty of pressure and snuff out any Adelaide chance of a leveler to record just their second win of the group stage and inflict the Reds second defeat.
Eugene Galekovic (gk), Robert Cornthwaite, Iain Fyfe, Cassio, Sergio van Dijk, Paul Reid, Travis Dodd (c) (78’ Jamieson), Michael Marrone, Mathew Leckie, Marcos Flores (81’ Barbiero), Adam Griffiths
Mark Birighitti (gk), Scott Jamieson 78’, Fabian Barbiero 81’
Yang Cheng (gk), Liu Jindong (c), Zhou Haibin, Han Peng, Gao Di (87’ Ma Xingyu), Yuan Weiwei, Zheng Zheng, Roda Antar, Wang Liang, Li Wei (64’ Xia Ningning), Ma Long (67’ Fred Benson)
Li Leilei (gk), Xia Ningning 64’, Fred Benson 67’, Ma Xingyu 87’