SIPG boss Villas-Boas: ACL semifinal draw vs. Urawa 'disappointing'
Andre Villas-Boas was left frustrated by Shanghai SIPG's inability to turn their dominance into goals after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Urawa Red Diamonds in the first leg of their Asian Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.
SIPG were on top throughout most of the meeting at Shanghai Stadium, with Hulk scoring a trademark long-range strike before Yosuke Kashiwagi levelled the scores for the Japanese side to leave the tie evenly poised with the second leg to come next month.
"I think we had the chance to win," Villas-Boas said. "We had 21 shots on goal, they only had three. It's disappointing -- 1-1 is quite an open scoreline and they have an away-goal advantage.
"I hope our players can recover before the next round. We haven't had a full match squad for quite a while. It will be very open. Of course, they have an away goal in hand and I hope we can score and level it up."
The teams will meet again on Oct. 18 at Saitama Stadium just outside Tokyo with SIPG hoping to maintain their slim hopes of a domestic and continental Treble, with Villas-Boas' side still in contention for the Chinese Super League title and due to play in the semifinals of the Chinese FA Cup.
The big-spending club had the lion's share of possession and the best chances on Wednesday evening, with Wu Lei going close late in the game and Oscar also hitting the post with a curling free kick.
Elkeson returned to the SIPG attack for the first time since Aug. 10 while Villas-Boas was forced to leave out first-choice goalkeeper Yan Junling and full-back Wang Shenchao after both picked up their second yellow card of the campaign in the quarterfinal penalty shootout win over Guangzhou Evergrande earlier in the month.
SIPG won the first leg of that game 4-0 before losing 5-1 in the second leg only to advance in the shootout and the lessons learned from that encounter left Villas-Boas cautious following the opening match with Urawa.
"I'm sorry I disappointed you guys without more goals," Villas-Boas said. "We had 21 shots and we should have scored more. But we failed to do so. However in the [quarterfinal] against Guangzhou Evergrande we won at home 4-0 but lost 5-1 away. So this result is very open. We will do our best in the next match."
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch