Dario Conca was the unlikely last-minute penalty hero for Guangzhou Evergrande as the Chinese side reached the last 16 of the AFC Champions League with a 2-1 win over Thai outfit Buriram United.
Argentinian midfielder Conca was served with a nine-match suspension by the club for his reaction to being substituted against Jeonbuk in the previous round of matches. But Conca was selected against all expectations and provided the late drama by converting from the spot to send Guangzhou to the top of Group H.
Coach Lee Jang-soo saw his decision to field the former Fluminense player justified, but there were worrying moments for visitors Guangzhou before the penalty came.
They went ahead through Lin Gao after 49 minutes, but were pegged back when substitute Suriya Domtaisong levelled for Buriram eight minutes later, and a draw would have seen Guangzhou miss out on a top-two finish.
Jeonbuk Motors fall
Conca had the decisive say, though, which left Jeonbuk Motors down in third place after their 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Kashiwa Reysol, who finished second.
Jeonbuk had been top of the table at the start of the sixth and final round of group games, but they fell behind against Kashiwa when Leandro Domingues netted with a fine low shot across goal into the bottom left corner after 48 minutes.
Junya Tanaka added a second goal in the 61st minute, tapping in from close range after Leandro Domingues' shot was touched against the right post.
Nagoya, Seongnam go through
Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight and Seongnam Chunma made certain of their places in the next round by both posting 3-0 wins in Group G.
Nagoya were comfortable home winners over Central Coast Mariners, with Keiji Tamada setting them on their way in the 19th minute and Jungo Fujimoto adding a second goal after 36 minutes. Australian side Central Coast conceded a third, to Marcus Tanaka, with three minutes remaining.
Seongnam were just as emphatic in their trip to face Chinese side Tianjin Taida. Yoon Bit-Garam gave Seongnam a 33rd-minute lead and Vladimir Jovancic made it 2-0 in the 48th minute before adding a penalty 20 minutes later.
Struggling Persepolis bounce back
Persepolis sealed their progression from Group D as runners-up after a 3-1 win at already-eliminated Al Shabab, who took the lead through Issa Mohamed on eight minutes.
The Iranian side levelled through Eamon Zayed three minutes before the break, before second-half strikes by Mehrdad Pooladi and substitute Hossein Badamaki secured victory.
Al Gharafa, who needed Persepolis to lose to have any chance of going through, ultimately finished a distant third after a 2-1 loss at group winners Al Hilal. Goals by Ahmed Al-Faridi (48) and Nawaf Al-Abed (65) had the Saudi hosts cruising, while Osama Hawsawi's 82nd-minute own-goal was scant consolation for Al Gharafa.
Sepahan clinched top spot in Group C with a 2-1 win over nearest rivals Al Ahli. Both sides kicked off the match with their qualification for the next round already assured and locked together on 10 points, but it was Sepahan who progressed as winners of the section thanks to goals by Xhevahir Sukaj (19) and Mohsen Bengar (84). Emad Al-Hosani replied for Al Ahli after 63 minutes.
Al Nasr avoided finishing bottom of the group as they won 2-1 at Lekhwiya. The hosts took the lead through Lassina Diaby on 37 minutes but Al Nasr claimed the three points with goals by Amara Diane (54) and Mohd Abdulla (57).