Jets outplayed by classy Pohang

The Newcastle Jets have been defeated by a rampant Pohang Steelers outfit in their AFC Champions League round of 16 clash at Steelyard Stadium.

The Newcastle Jets have been defeated by a rampant Pohang Steelers outfit in their AFC Champions League round of 16 clash at Steelyard Stadium.

Being only the second Australian side to ever qualify beyond the group stage of Asia-s elite club competition, the Jets travelled to Korea with a high degree of anticipation and pressure, with the eyes of the nation-s football followers looking on.

However, it was to be an unfortunate night for the Hyundai A-League 2007/08 champions, as they were downed 6-0 by a Pohang side who must surely be considered one of the favourites to take out the Champions League title.

It could have been an entirely different story though had the match started in a different fashion. Unfortunately for the visitors, they conceded a penalty in the 8th minute when Jason Hoffman was adjudged to have brought down Brazilian striker Denilson. The big frontman duly converted the spot-kick to give Pohang a crucial early advantage.

Seven minutes later and Pohang doubled their lead when Choi Hyo-jin dispossessed Jobe Wheelhouse deep into Jets territory and went on to round Ben Kennedy and slot home the Steelers- second.

The Jets then pressed on looking for a way back into the game, and had opportunities to break down the defence of the home side, but were unable to convert their possession in the final third into goals.

Indeed, the second stanza began in a similar vein, with the Hunter-based club throwing everything at the Steelers. Hoffman was lively throughout the match, pushing down the left flank and getting himself into goalscoring positions. Only one minute into the second half and Hoffman could have given the Jets a lifeline when he met a Tarek Elrich cross, but his volleyed skied harmlessly over the bar.

Moments later and the contest was all but over when Korean international Kim Jae-sung broke down the right hand side and, from an acute angle, hit a screaming shot into the roof of the net.

Choi Hyo-jin then went on to claim his hattrick with two expertly taken goals on the counter attack in the 61st and 69th minutes in what was a fine display of disciplined, clinical football by the pacy winger.

With the clock winding down, substitute Stevico Ristic completed the route with a thunderous right-footed drive from the edge of the area.

The Jets again had their chances to break down the Steelers defence in the second period, but were unable to execute the final pass to give themselves a way back into the contest.
Head Coach Gary van Egmond was understandably disappointed with the result, but was philosophical about his side-s run through the competition.

“Firstly, you have to take your hat off to Pohang. They deserved the win and played some excellent football out there. It was a disappointing way for us to go out after doing so well to get through the group stage but you have to give credit where it-s due and Pohang were outstanding at home tonight.”

“For us, we can take plenty out of the competition, not only the achievement of getting through the group stage, but for the players it was a great chance for them to get some cohesion heading into the next A-League campaign.”

“We-ll give the players some rest now and then resume training next month to start preparing for next season. Our first match against an A-League team is on the 12th of July so this Champions League competition should serve us well heading into our domestic duties.”