Shanghai: Brazilian striker Hulk scored twice from the penalty spot to rescue Shanghai SIPG in a 2-2 stalemate against Urawa Reds in the AFC Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.
J-League side Urawa will go into the home second leg as slight favourites on the away-goals rule, but it could have been so much better after they led 2-0 at the break.
The 33-year-old Hulk held his nerve twice in the second half from the spot to keep Vitor Pereira's Chinese champions alive in the tie.
Pereira felt that his side, boasting expensively assembled attacking players Hulk, Oscar and Marko Arnautovic, could have gone on to win the game.
"At half-time we were maybe out of the competition. But now everything is possible. In the first half the team looked lost, lost on the pitch and without confidence," said the Portuguese, adding, "we suffered a bit, but the reaction in the second half gave us hope to win the game."
Shanghai's Chinese international goalkeeper Yan Junling was badly at fault for the opener as Urawa threatened to go goal-crazy at a stunned Shanghai Stadium.
On only three minutes he flapped at a high ball, dropping it at the feet of Tomoaki Makino, who swivelled to fire into an empty net.
The home side complained bitterly but Yan was culpable, spilling the ball under negligible pressure from Makino.
On 30 minutes the visitors, two-time Asian champions, stretched their lead when Shinzo Koroki ran through on goal and slotted under Yan, who again might have done better.
Shanghai's record of never losing in the Champions League at home in 19 matches was in serious danger.
Boos rang out at half-time in the direction of referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan of the United Arab Emirates, the home crowd feeling that Yan was fouled for the opener.
Arnautovic, signed from West Ham United during the summer, was making his Asian Champions League debut, but the Austrian striker was subdued throughout.
Shanghai, whose domestic league defence is faltering after racking up too many draws, emerged for the second half with intent and scored on 49 minutes.
Oscar, an Asian-record 60 million euro capture from Chelsea in 2017, took on several Urawa players before he was felled in the box. It looked harsh on the visitors, with Oscar appearing to leave his leg in to win the penalty.
His fellow Brazilian Hulk, a 55.8 million euro capture from Zenit St Petersburg three years ago, smacked in the spot-kick and Urawa were reeling.
On 71 minutes it was 2-2 thanks to another unerring Hulk penalty after Brazilian defender Antonio Mauricio inadvertently blocked a goal-bound shot with his arm.
The second leg is on 17 September.
Updated Date: Aug 27, 2019 20:20:25 IST