Yokohama F Marinos went down 1-0 away to South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday in the first leg of the Asian Champions League semifinals.

Making their first appearance at this stage of the competition, the 2022 J-League champions Marinos had plenty of shots but lacked a cutting edge against the two-time reigning K League champions at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium.

Lee Dong Gyeong gave Ulsan the 19th-minute lead after forward Joo Min Kyu controlled a low cross and laid the ball off for the midfielder to sweep home past Marinos keeper William Popp, converting their only on-target first-half shot.

Marinos, who had wingers Ryo Miyaichi and Yan Matheus denied from outside the box on either side of the opener, kept enjoying possession and pressed harder after the break but were also left exposed at the back.

Yokohama F Marinos' Yan Matheus (L) holds his head after missing a chance against Ulsan Hyundai during the second half of the first leg of their Asian Champions League semifinal at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, South Korea, on April 17, 2024. (Kyodo)

Joo's low shot hit the left-hand post in the 67th minute before Lee's effort following another counter was tipped onto the other post just a minute later by Popp, who also kept out Joo's 72nd-minute header to keep the damage to a minimum.

Matheus had a golden opportunity in the 81st for the visitors but could only steer his shot onto the bar from point-blank range after getting on the end of Jun Amano's cross, allowing Ulsan to take a slender lead to Yokohama where they meet again in a week's time.

"We conceded in the first half, it was one I could have saved," Popp said. "It's down to the limits of my individual skill and I feel responsible in defeat after my teammates battled so hard. I want to pay them back in our next game at home."

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