Asia AFC Champions League

Ulsan Sneak Past Jeonbuk to Land ACL Semifinal Spot

South Korean giants Ulsan HD secured their spot in the 2023/24 AFC Champions League semifinals for the third time in four editions by narrowly defeating domestic rivals Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1-0 in the second leg of their quarterfinal at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium on Tuesday.

With the first leg ending in a 1-1 draw in Jeonju, the pivotal moment came just before halftime when Seol Young-woo’s spectacular volley gave South Korean champions Ulsan the edge they needed to advance to the final four. They will now face-off against Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos in next month’s final four.

Ulsan displayed early dominance with the lion’s share of possession and nearly found the net through Lee Myung-jae’s free-kick in the 13th minute. However, it was Jeonbuk who posed the most significant threat in the opening half-hour.

Jeonbuk’s Lee Dong-jun initiated a swift break down the right flank in the 14th minute, providing a cross for Tiago Orobo, whose skillful touch was met with an outstanding reflex save from Ulsan goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo.

The match saw both goalkeepers tested, with Kim Jeong-hoon denying Ulsan’s Joo Min-kyu’s header from a corner and Jo making another crucial save against Moon Seon-min’s one-on-one opportunity.

However, it was Ulsan who capitalized on their chances just before halftime when Seol’s adventurous run down the flank culminated in a superb volley from a cross by Gustav Ludwigson, putting them 1-0 ahead.

Jeonbuk pushed for an equalizer in the second half, but struggled to break through Ulsan’s defense. Despite efforts from Orobo and Song Min-kyu, they couldn’t find the back of the net, ending their hopes of clinching a third ACL title.