|Pohang Steelers secures a place in Group H of the 2016 AFC Champions League's Final after a victory over Hanoi T&T on February 9. — Photo vov.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Shim Dong-woon's hat-trick gave Pohang Steelers a 3-0 win over Ha Noi T&T in the Asian Football Championship Champions League play-off match on February 9 in South Korea.
The win at Steelyard Stadium won the hosts a place in Group H of the 2016 AFC Champions League's final.
Pohang will take their place in the group stage, where they will face defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande of China, 2007 winners Urawa Reds of Japan and Australia's Sydney FC.
It is the second time Ha Noi T&T have lost at this stage of the continental tournament. They lost 0-7 to FC Seoul last year. Although the Vietnamese side gave Pohang Steelers a tough time for much of the game, they could not prevent the three-time continentalchampions from winning comfortably.
Hoang Vu Samson broke through the left wing before sending a ball to young striker Quang Hai in the box. But Hai wasted his chance with a shot that went wide.
Samson then got his own opportunities to open the score, but his attempts were denied by Pohang's goalkeeper.
The hosts got their breakthrough in the 35th minute from a simple move. A long ball from just inside the Ha Noi T&T area found Shim on the edge of the area and the forward volleyed the ball, side-footed, over goalkeeper Tran Anh Duc and into the top of the net.
That settled the hosts, with Coach Choi Jin-cheul in charge of his first competitive game. The visitors had a huge challenge midway through the second half, as Shim advanced with the ball and, with the defence backing off, fired home a low shot from just outside the area.
With five minutes left, the 25-year-old grabbed the ball after collecting a pass on the edge of the area and rolling the ball into the far corner.
"We can do better, but this was a good result for us," Choi, who himself won the AFC Champions League in 2006 with K League Classic powerhouse Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, said.
"We are now looking forward to the group stage. We know it will not be easy, but are looking forward to the challenge."
Meanwhile, Ha Noi T&T Coach Phan Thanh Hung seemed to have expected a loss and did not seem surprised with the result.
"As we expected, Pohang proved to be a tough team and it was a good game," Hung, who had led his side past Hong Kong champions Kitchee with a 1-0 victory in last week's preliminary stage 2, said.
"We lost 3-0, but there are enough positives to take away from this game. I am happy we were able to play some good football and show a little of what we are about," he said.
Two other Southeast Asian teams also suffered defeats in this round. Thailand's Muangthong United were trounced 0-3 by China's Shanghai SIGP, while Tokyo FC of Japan beat Chonburi FC, also from Thailand, 9-0.
The final group stage will begin on February 23, with Vietnamese champions Becamex Binh Duong welcoming Jiangsu FC on their home turf at Go Dau Stadium. — VNS