Sydney FC 0 Shanghai Shenhua 0

Sydney FC will qualify for the AFC Champions League quarter-finals if it beats Urawa Reds in Japan on May 23 in spite of its goalless draw against Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua at Aussie Stadium.

Sydney FC will qualify for the AFC Champions League quarter-finals if it beats Urawa Reds in Japan on May 23 in spite of its goalless draw against Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua at Aussie Stadium.

With one round of Group E games remaining, Sydney FC and Urawa Reds are the only two teams in the section that can reach the last eight. Sydney FC will become the first Australian side to make the knockout stage if it wins at Saitama Stadium, while any other result would propel Urawa Reds into September's quarter-finals.

Sydney FC would have gone to Japan needing only a draw to progress had it defeated Shanghai Shenhua at home but, despite having a dozen corners and a dozen shots on goal, it was not to be for Branko Culina's team.

Shanghai Shenhua goalkeeper Zhang Chen had a night to remember between the sticks, pulling off at least five sensational saves to stop Sydney FC winning a match that it dominated from beginning to end, while Ufuk Talay blew a golden opportunity when his penalty kick crashed back off the crossbar midway through the first half.

Sydney FC started the game well and did not take long to sting the fingers of Zhang Chen. Only eight minutes had elapsed when Steve Corica saw his full-blooded drive pushed behind and then, from the ensuing corner, David Carney rose above the pack only to see his header tipped over. Not long after that Alex Brosque's left-footed shot from the edge of the 18-yard box skidded past the right post and out for a goal kick.

Twenty-five minutes into the match and Sydney FC was awarded a penalty for its second Aussie Stadium game in a row. Singaporean referee Malik Abdul Bashir adjudged that Shanghai Shenhua defender Liu Zhiqing had handled Mark Milligan's centre inside the area but, after a lengthy delay, Talay could not do what he had managed versus Urawa Reds at the same end of the ground and the deadlock remained unbroken.

Sydney FC continued to create chances both before and after the break, with Brosque, Carney and David Zdrilic all going close to opening the scoring before Shanghai Shenhua came within a whisker of forging ahead against the run of play. One of the Chinese side's three imports, Fernando Correa, thought his header was bound for Sydney FC's net but Carney cleared the ball off the line with Clint Bolton beaten.

Mark Rudan and Milligan had very late chances to win the match for Sydney FC but the game ended all square in front of just under 15,000 spectators. Both Rudan and Milligan were cautioned during the game but neither of them will be suspended for the Group E decider in Japan. Unfortunately, however, Robbie Middleby is out of the all-important match after collecting his second yellow card of the competition.

Sydney FC 0 Shanghai Shenhua 0 Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2007 Venue: Aussie Stadium, Sydney Referee: Abdul Malik Abdul Bashir (Singapore) Crowd: 14,786

Sydney FC: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Iain FYFE, 4. Mark RUDAN (captain), 6. Ufuk TALAY (18. Adam CASEY 73'), 7. Robbie MIDDLEBY, 9. David ZDRILIC (19. Luka GLAVAS 80'), 10. Steve CORICA, 11. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 12. David CARNEY, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 16. Mark MILLIGAN.

Substitutes not used: 20. Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 3. Nikolas TSATTALLIOS, 5. Noel SPENCER, 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 15. Terry McFLYNN, 17. Jacob TIMPANO.

Yellow cards: Mark Milligan 17', Robbie Middleby 36', Mark Rudan 66'

Shanghai Shenhua: 12. Zhang CHEN (gk), 2. Yao LIJUN (25. Yin XIFU 83'), 3. Dong YANG, 5. Du WEI (captain), 6. Liu ZHIQING, 7. Xiao ZHANBO, 8. Sergio BLANCO, 9. Diego ALONSO, 10. Fernando CORREA, (26. Wang HONGLIANG 57'), 15. Wang KE (18. Zheng KEWEI 65'), 24. Li GANG.

Substitutes not used: 1. Wang DALEI (gk), 11. Zhang XIAORUI, 20. Xie HUI.

Yellow cards: Fernando Correa 38', Sergio Blanco 47'.