Lee Chun Soo played a starring role once again as Ulsan Hyundai thrashed Dalian Shide 4-0 to win the A3 Champions Cup at Tokyo’s National Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Two goals from South Korean World Cup star Lee and one each for Leandro and Choi Sung Kuk gave the K-League winners victory over the C-League winners and, added to their 6-0 romp over Gamba last Saturday, was enough to give them the Cup with six points.
Gamba finished in second place, also on six points but with a vastly inferior goal difference, after beating JEF United Chiba 2-0 in the later game with goals from Yasuhito Endo and Ryuji Bando.
Ulsan’s Lee finished as top scorer in the four-team tournament with six goals, getting off the mark in the 3-2 loss to JEF in their opening game before scoring a second-half hat trick in the game against Gamba.
Coach Kim Jung Nam raved about the ex-Spanish League player.
“He is a very good player in tight areas. He is very creative and can score goals,” Kim said.
Lee opened the scoring for Ulsan on Tuesday with a clever finish on 34 minutes after being fed by Choi and Brazilian Leandro made it 2-0 three minutes before the break with a far-post header.
Choi tapped in just after the break to make it 3-0 and the dangerous Lee gobbled up a parry from ‘keeper Chen Dong to finish the scoring with just under 20 minutes to go. It was one-sided stuff but Kim refused to gloat on the huge difference in the quality of the two teams and instead paid tribute to Dalian’s efforts.
“Our condition was very good today, we had a bit of luck on our side and a bit of help from above. The teams aren’t that far apart in terms of ability and I think luck played a big part today.
“Instead of talking about the problems of Chinese football, let me say that Dalian is a very good team. They did quite well considering they had players suspended, injured and just back from illness. And these little things accumulated and made a huge difference for them,” Kim said.
Dalian earned a solitary point against JEF on Saturday to finish in last place, but coach Lin Le Feng waved away excuses that his side’s poor showing against Ulsan was down to the injury problems that forced him to play an unfit Miodrag Pantelic.
“I think Chinese football has a lot to learn from Japan and South Korea. It is not unexpected that we lost because we are a tired group,” Lin said. “Obviously fatigue can’t be an excuse but we need to find a way to play in foreign countries and maintain a high level of fitness.”
In the later game, a brilliant free-kick from Endo on 67 minutes and a stunning diving header from Bando with just under 10 minutes to go gave Gamba the points.
Endo had the chance to double the lead shortly after his first goal when Gamba was awarded a penalty, but his terrible penalty trickled into the hands of Tomonori Tateishi. Yuki Abe then missed a penalty for JEF moments later, ballooning the ball over the bar to the despair of the JEF fans behind the goal and Bando punished them later with his header off Endo’s right-wing cross.
The A3 Champions Cup brought together the winners of the J. League, Chinese League and Korean League, with Nabisco Cup holders JEF also invited to take part.
Ulsan’s victory means Korean teams have won the tournament the last three years, after Kashima Antlers won the inaugural Cup in 2003.
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