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Four S. Korean clubs remain undefeated in AFC Champions League

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) -- With two matches apiece in the books, four South Korean football clubs at the top Asian competition remained undefeated this week.

Ulsan Hyundai of the K League Classic picked up their second win in the group stage on Wednesday at this year's AFC Champions League, beating Kawasaki Frontale at home 2-0. Ulsan leads Group H with six points.

Also on Wednesday, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors played Melbourne Victory to a 2-2 tie in Group G action on the road, and they now sit at four points. Guangzhou Evergrande, the 2013 AFC champion, also has four points but Jeonbuk is in the lead thanks to a superior goal difference.

Pohang Steelers, the defending K League Classic champs, earned their first AFC win with a 2-1 victory over Buriram United in Thailand on Tuesday. Pohang is in second place in Group E with four points, trailing Shandong Luneng FC in goal difference.

Finally, FC Seoul, last year's runner-up to Guangzhou, drew Beijing Guoan 1-1 in the Chinese capital on Tuesday. FC Seoul still leads Group F with four points.

The K League Classic has produced five consecutive finalists in the AFC Champions League, with three -- Pohang in 2009, Seongnam in 2010 and Ulsan in 2012 -- lifting the trophy.

The four representatives are off to solid starts this year as they look to extend the dominance.

Ulsan had a goal each from striker Kim Shin-wook and midfielder Yoo Jun-soo late in the match, and head coach Jo Min-gook said his squad was lucky to walk away with a win against Kawasaki.

The Japanese club was in control for the majority of the match, and Ulsan lamented his players' fatigue.

"I told our players to be attentive on defense but they were running on fumes," said Jo, whose team defeated Pohang in the K League Classic action last Saturday. "We gave up too many opportunities but we were fortunate not to give up any goals. Our goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu made about three great saves, too."

Ulsan's next AFC contest will be next Wednesday at home against Guizhou Renhe of China.

In Melbourne, Jeonbuk trailed 1-0 early before forward Lee Dong-gook scored twice in a three-minute span late in the second half. That lead lasted only a minute, as Melbourne Victory's Kosta Barbarouses scored the equalizer and the home side held on for the draw.

Jeonbuk's head coach Choi Kang-hee said Melbourne outplayed his team, saying, "I knew they were a skilled team that could pass the ball, but they were a lot better than we'd expected."

Jeonbuk is paired with the 2013 AFC champ Guangzhou for the third straight year. The Chinese club will likely stand in Jeonbuk's way, and Choi insisted his goal this year is to win Jeonbuk's first AFC title since 2006. The club's next match will be against Guangzhou next Tuesday in China.

Earlier in the week, Pohang traveled to Thailand and came away with a hard-fought win over Buriram United, an AFC quarterfinalist last year.

It was Pohang's first victory of 2014; the team had a 1-1 tie against Cerezo Osaka to open the AFC campaign, before losing to Ulsan 1-0 in the K League Classic season opener.

Kim Tae-soo and Kim Seung-dae had a goal apiece in the first half, and Pohang held off the home club for a narrow victory.

Pohang was knocked out of the group stage in each of the past two AFC tournaments, after winning it all in 2009. Pohang will next host Shandong Luneng FC from China next Tuesday.

In Beijing, FC Seoul managed a draw thanks to Go Yo-han's score in the 71st minute. Over the winter, head coach Choi Yong-soo saw key players bolt for Chinese clubs, including midfielder Ha Dae-sung, FC Seoul's ex-captain who now plays for Beijing Guoan.

Choi noted that Ha seemed to have blended in perfectly with the rest of his new team and said the South Korean was "a dangerous player" on both ends on Tuesday.

FC Seoul will travel to Japan to face Sanfrecce Hiroshima next Wednesday.

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