Marinos shine in ACL quarter-final first-leg win over Shandong

Marinos shine in ACL quarter-final first-leg win over Shandong

Yokohama F·Marinos got off to a stellar start in their AFC Champions League quarter-final tie, defeating Shandong Taishan, 2-1, in the first leg.

Anderson Lopes and Yan Matheus were on the mark for the Tricolor, who won in China to set up a second leg at home with a one-goal advantage.

Anderson Lopes was active right from the start and nearly scored after four minutes, but Wang Dalei made a nice save to deny him.

The Shandong goalkeeper wouldn’t be able to stop Marinos’ star striker in the seventh minute, though, as Lopes danced to create space in the area before firing into the corner of the net from 15 yards.

The early lead allowed the Tricolor to tame the raucous Shandong crowd; it was exactly what they needed in a difficult away leg against an energetic, high-pressing team.

Marinos continued to be the more dangerous side and Shandong never seemed able to corral Lopes, who was a threat in seemingly every Tricolor attack. He and Yan Matheus nearly connected for a goal in the 10th minute and then again in the 25th minute before Lopes put a shot of his own over just before the break as the Tricolor threatened to add to their tally.

Shandong rarely threatened the Marinos goal in the first half, as they hoped their press would create chances for them, but the Tricolor were too good on the ball to give them the opportunity. Their closest bid came on a shot from distance, but William Popp sprawled to make a fine save and keep Marinos in front.

Marinos finally doubled their advantage in the 69th minute when the ever-dangerous Yan Matheus got a chance to fire from 20 yards. He expertly guided his shot into the bottom corner and, with the help of some traffic in front of goal, left the keeper no chance as the Tricolor went 2-0 up.

Shandong had found more opportunities throughout the second half, opting to play more with the ball and repeatedly lofting crosses in from the wing. That caused Marinos some trouble, but they continued to keep the Chinese club at bay thanks to Popp and some help from the woodwork.

As the match ticked into stoppage time, Shandong finally found a goal. Once again, a cross created danger and Chen Pu was able to smash the ball into the net to put the home side on the scoreboard.

The goal makes the second leg much tougher for Marinos but they nevertheless went on the road and came away with a victory to begin their first-ever AFC Champions League quarter-final.

It was a wildly successful evening and one that puts the Tricolor in the driver’s seat heading into next week’s second leg, where the Yokohama faithful will be hoping to see their club advance to Asia’s final four.

They will know from Kawasaki Frontale just how tough the task ahead is, but should they be able to do it they will be into their first-ever AFC Champions League semi-final.