SENDAI – Tournament debutants Vegalta Sendai were eliminated from the Asian Champions League on Wednesday after a 2-1 defeat at home to China’s Jiangsu Sainty in their final game in Group E.
Sendai started the day in the second spot and Naoki Sugai headed them in front, but Liu Jianye leveled and Hamdi Salihi hit the winner midway through the second half.
Both teams finished with 10 men as Sendai striker Wilson and Jiangsu’s Ren Hang were both sent off in the late stages.
“The players tried their best right until the end,” said Sendai manager Makoto Tegramori, whose team ended up bottom of the group. “We will just have to get rid of this frustration in the J. League now.”
Sendai took the lead on 24 minutes when Sugai headed in a superb cross from the left by Koji Hachisuka.
But Jiangsu looked dangerous and Salihi hit the crossbar with a free kick, before the Chinese leveled seven minutes before halftime.
Sendai’s backline could only half clear a right-wing cross and the loose ball fell to Liu, who beat Takuto Hayashi with a blistering drive from 25 meters.
Vegalta squandered a great chance to retake the lead three minutes into the second period when Shingo Tomita’s offering sailed over the bar after a flowing passing move.
That miss proved costly as Salihi sprung the offside trap and beat Hayashi with a crisp finish in the 62nd minute.
Urawa Reds, the 2007 ACL Champions, were in action in a later Group F match away to Thaliand’s Muangthong United.