NAGOYA--Japan's Kashiwa Reysol eliminated 2011 runner-up Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-0 to reach the last 16 of the Asian Champions League on May 15.
Jeonbuk, also the 2006 champion, needed only a point to advance, but fell to second-half goals by Leandro Domingues and Junya Tanaka.
The K-League side’s problems were compounded when Lee Dong-gook, the top-scorer in the 2011 ACL, hit the post off a penalty.
“Jeonbuk are a tough team and we expected the counterattack, but once we scored in the second half we had more chances and we could control the game,” Kashiwa coach Nelsinho Baptista said. “The players were very confident before the game. We knew that Jeonbuk have been playing well in the K-League, but they were without their captain and we knew we had a chance.”
Kashiwa advanced as the runner-up in Group H to China Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrande, which beat Thailand’s Buriram United 2-1 through an injury-time penalty from Dario Conca.
After a scoreless first half, Guanzhou’s Gao Lin struck in the 49th minute only for Buriram’s Suriya Domtaisong to draw his side level eight minutes later. With both sides facing an early exit, Conca scored the winner.
“Guangzhou are now representing the whole of China, not just Guangzhou, so I’m extremely happy to have been able to grab this win against Buriram United,” coach Lee Jang-soo said.
Ironically, Conca had been given a nine-match ban for criticizing Lee. But just before the game started, Lee lifted the ban to allow the Argentine midfielder to play.
Japan’s Nagoya Grampus also advanced from Group G after beating Australia’s Central Coast Mariners 3-0. South Korea’s Seongnam Ilhwa topped the group with a 3-0 drubbing of China’s Tianjin Teda.
Keiji Tamada opened the scoring for Nagoya in the 19th minute and Jungo Fujimoto doubled the lead in the 36th minute. Marcus Tanaka finished off the one-sided affair with a goal in the 87th minute.
A double from Bosnian striker Vladimir Jovancic helped Seongnam beat winless Tianjin. Seongnam’s Yoon Bit-Garam got Seongnam on the board in the 33rd minute and then Jovancic struck in the 48th and 68th minute.
In West Asia, Iran’s Persepolis ensured its passage to the next stage from Group D with a 3-1 win over already relegated Al Shabab of the United Arab Emirates. Eamon Zayed gave Persepolis the lead in the 43rd minute before Mehrdad Pooladi doubled it 10 minutes later. Gholam Badamaki put the match out of reach with an injury-time goal.
Saudi side Al Hilal beat Qatar’s Al Gharafa 2-1 to secure the other spot in Group D. Ahmed Al Fraidi put his side up 1-0 in the 48th minute and Nawaf Alabid doubled the lead in the 65th minute. An own goal from Osama Hawsawi in the 82nd minute made it close but Al Gharafa couldn’t find the equalizer.
Saudi League runner-up Al Ahli beat Iran’s Sepahan 2-1 to take top spot in Group C. Both had already secured qualification.
In the other Group C encounter, the UAE’s Al Nasr ended their campaign with a bit of pride, beating Qatari side Lekhwiya 2-1. Lekhwiya’s Lessena Diaby gave his side the lead only for Al Nasr to strike twice in two minutes, through Amara Diane and then Humaid Abbas.
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