China PR, Korea Republic and United Arab Emirates had plenty to celebrate after the Round of 16 as each Member Association boasts two sides progressing to the AFC Champions League quarter-finals. Qatar and Uzbekistan, meanwhile, also have a representative in the last-eight through.
A quartet made history with Al Nasr, El Jaish, Lokomotiv Tashkent and debutants Shanghai SIPG sealing their maiden quarter-final spots. Jeonbuk Motors and Al Ain underlined their status as former winners with progression of their own. Elsewhere, Shandong Luneng booked their return to the last eight and FC Seoul continued their strong showing on the continental stage after defeating Urawa Red Diamonds on penalties.
Sydney 2-2 Shandong Luneng
Brandon O’Neill (3’), Rhyan Grant (47’); Walter Montillo (12’), Hao Junmin (90’)
Shandong Luneng twice came from behind to draw 2-2 against ten-man Sydney as Mano Menezes's visitors progressed on away goals having played out a 1-1 draw in the opening leg. The showdown had every element of a classic decider with a red card, a missed penalty and late drama. Having won a group that also featured current holders Guangzhou Evergrande, former winners Urawa Red Diamonds and Pohang Steelers, Graham Arnold’s hosts entered the second leg aiming to continue their amazing run. It was, however, the visitors that had the final say with substitute Hao Junmin's wonder-strike sealing their return to the last-eight for the first time in 11 years, advancing 3-3 on away goals.
Sydney had a dream start when Brandon O'Neill's free-kick cannoned off the far post and into the net only three minutes into the match. Shandong responded soon, though, as Walter Montillo equalised with a composed side-footed finish. The home side would again go ahead shortly after the restart when Rhyan Grant scored from an acute angle. But a desperate Menezes sent on three attackers and his tactical gamble soon paid dividends with Yang Xu earning a penalty after being fouled by Zac Anderson in the area, leading to the Sydney defender's dismissal. Tardelli approached the spot but the Brazilian was denied first by goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic and then the woodwork on his rebound. With their hopes hanging by a thread, Hao came to Shandong's rescue by firing into the roof of the net with less than a minute left.
Seoul 3–2 (a.e.t.) Urawa Red Diamonds (Seoul win 7-6 on penalties)
Dejan Damjanovic (29'), Adriano (94'), Go Yohan (120'); Tadanari Lee (112’, 115’)
It was no surprise that Seoul sealed their quarter-final appearance for a fifth time. Though, it was the fashion in which the 2013 runners-up made it through that raised many eyebrows. Entering the second leg the hosts trailed 1-0. Choi Yongsoo's side brought aggregate score line level when Dejan Damjanovic opened the scoring on 26 minutes. With the two sides locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes, extra-time was required to separate the two teams, and it proved to be an extraordinary half-hour of football. The additional time saw top-scorer Adriano put the hosts in front with his 11th goal in the campaign. But Tadanari Lee scored a quick-fire brace to restore the advantage for the visitors only to see Go Yohan pull the two sides level through a last-ditch effort. In the penalty shootout that followed to determine the winner from the 3-3 aggregate tie. Seoul kept their cool to prevail 7-6.
The other attractions
Iranian international Farzad Hatami scored twice as Tractor Sazi pulled off a 3-1 victory against Al Nasr at home. Despite the result, though, it was the visitors that emerged the aggregate victors courtesy of their massive 4-1 home win a week earlier. Lee Myungjoo and Danilo Asprilla scored in each half as Al Ain won 2-0 at Zob Ahan. The result, coupled with the 1-1 first-leg draw, saw the inaugural winners reach the quarter-finals with a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Despite losing 4-2 at Lekhwiya, El Jaish booked their passage to the last-eight courtesy of their 4-0 first-leg win. Notably, Romarinho was once again on target having scoring a brace in their previous triumph. Server Djeparov had a hand in the opening two goals as Lokomotiv Tashkent edged Al Hilal 2-1 at home to advance, having played out a goalless draw in the first leg. The two-time AFC Player of the Year was involved in Islom Tukhtakhujaev's first-half opener before providing the assist for Sherzod Fayziev to double the lead, leaving Mohammed Al Shalhoub's late spot-kick a mere consolation.
2006 winners Jeonbuk Motors dispatched Melbourne Victory 2-1 at home, a result which saw the K-League champions through 3-2 on aggregate having held the Australians 1-1 in the previous leg. Brazil striker Leonardo, who grabbed the equaliser last week, continued his goal-scoring form by scoring a brace to fire his side through. Wu Lei became the hero for Shanghai, scoring the only goal against Tokyo at home as his side progressed 2-2 on aggregate. The in-from predator, who netted a precious away goal in the 2-1 first-leg loss, latched on to a clearance to seal the triumph in stoppage-time.
This Asian Champions League campaign has so far seen the unexpected rise of Shanghai SIPG, who have stormed into the last eight in surprising fashion, as well as the emergence of ace-striker Wu Lei. The 24-year-old Chinese international has racked up seven goals, including a brace in the qualifying playoff in their 3-0 defeat of Muangthong United, which sealed their maiden appearance.
1- Lokomotiv become the only side to remain undefeated while Shanghai are the tournament’s sole debutants.
What they said
"In Riyadh we had to play defensive football because of Al Hilal’s experience, but today we tried to play attacking football. We worked on free-kicks and that gave us a big advantage. We won as a unit." Lokomotiv coach Andrey Miklyaev
Second leg results: 24 & 25 May
Lokomotiv Tashkent 2-1 Al Hilal (2-1 aggregate)
Tractor Sazi 3-1 Al Nasr (4-5 aggregate)
Zob Ahan 0-2 Al Ain (1-3 aggregate)
El Jaish 2-4 Lekhwiya (6-4 aggregate)
Jeonbuk Motors 2-1 Melbourne Victory (3-2 aggregate)
Shanghai SIPG 1-0 Tokyo (2-2 aggregate, Shanghai SIPG advance on away goals)
Seoul 3–2 (a.e.t.) Urawa Red Diamonds (3-3 aggregate, Seoul advance 7-6 on penalties)
Sydney 2-2 Shandong Luneng (3-3 aggregate, Shandong Luneng advance on away goals)