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Seoul held to 0-0 draw in 1st leg of semifinals

September 17, 2014

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Western Sydney Wanderers held FC Seoul to a 0-0 draw Wednesday in the first leg of the Asian Champions League semifinals.

Seoul, the 2013 runner-up, had the better of the opportunities but struggled to find a way through the Australian backline.

Spanish-born Japanese striker Sergio Escudero went closest for the two-time K-League champion, wasting a one-on-one opportunity in the first half, shooting wide from the edge of the area.

Western Sydney beat defending champion Guangzhou Evergrande in the quarterfinals but apart from a succession of corners, rarely threatened Seoul’s goal in the absence of suspended forwards Tomi Juric and Brendon Santalab and utility Shannon Cole.

The hosts came close to snatching a late winner but failed to convert during a period of sustained pressure.

“We wanted to win the home leg,” Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo said.. “We made many opportunities to score but our decision-making in front of goal was lacking. There is still the second leg and we are a team that is capable of scoring away from home.”

The second leg is scheduled for Oct. 1 in Parramatta when the Wanderers, making their debut in the continental championship, will have the likes of Santalab and Juric back and will be aiming to become the second Australian club to reach the final — Adelaide United was runner-up in 2008.

“The last 20 minutes were tough but... it is a satisfactory result,” Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said. “A look at our record in this competition shows that we are strong at home.”

Wanderers captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley said his team was growing in confidence ahead of the home leg.

“A clean sheet away from home, I’ll take that any day,” he said. “I think it will be a whole different ball game at Parramatta. These clubs in Asian aren’t used to travelling 10 hours to Australia.”

In the other semifinal, Saudi club Al Hilal beat Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates 3-0 Tuesday in the first leg, helped by two goals from Saudi international Nasser Al-Shamrani. Al Hilal is bidding for its first ever Champions League title.

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