Doha, 7 December 2020 - Vissel Kobe continued making club history by reaching the 2020 AFC Champions League (East) quarter-final with a 2-0 win against Shanghai SIPG at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday.
The tie saw the J1 League side participate in their first ever AFC Champions League knockout match, while the Shanghai-based side were contesting their fifth straight Round of 16 game having qualified to the stage in each of the times they have taken part in the competition.
The first 20 minutes were characterised by plenty of sparring but with no blows landed, as both sides pressed relentlessly in the pursuit of an opener. Vissel Kobe came closest through Douglas who missed a goalmouth header from Kyogo Furuhashi’s cross.
The scoring was opened just past the half-hour mark through Spanish legend Andres Iniesta, who received a perfectly weighted pass from Hotaru Yamaguchi in the penalty area before dribbling and feigning a shot then letting away a low, placed shot that crept just under goalkeeper Chen Wei’s body and into the net.
The match sprung into life after the goal, and the Chinese side almost replied in kind a few minutes later when Yuta Goke handled the ball outside Vissel Kobe’s penalty area, but Oscar drove the free-kick marginally wide past Daiya Maekawa’s goal.
Japan international Furuhashi almost doubled his side’s lead after collecting a clearance and dribbling his way through SIPG’s backline before right-footing a shot from outside the area that barely just missed the post on its way out for a goal kick.
Five minutes into the second half, Atsuhiro Miura’s men doubled their lead through Daigo Nishi, who high footed the ball into the net after an incredibly lively Furuhashi had crossed it into his path following some brilliant footwork by the latter.
Vissel Kobe nearly made it 3-0 when Nishi and Furuhashi combined again inside the area, with the former squaring up the latter who missed, allowing the number 22 to take a shot at an open goal that was just wide.
Vitor Perreira’s side got a rare glance at goal when following a set-piece situation, Wang Shenchao got a chance to shoot after a teammate had let the ball reach him unmarked, but the Chinese defender’s shot hit Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen’s shoulder before eventually being cleared.
The result sees Shanghai SIPG get knocked out of the competition by a Japanese side for the fourth time in a row, while Vissel Kobe’s maiden campaign continues when they contest their first ever quarter-final in three days’ time.