Matchday 3 in the AFC Champions League saw former winners Al Ain, Jeonbuk Motors and Pohang Steelers prevail against their respective rivals to earn three crucial points and a psychological edge heading into next week’s return encounter.
Stealing the show, though, were last year’s runners-up Al Ahli who hammered hosts Sepahan 4-2, while Kashiwa Reysol pulled off an unbelievable 6-2 victory at Suwon Bluewings. Join FIFA.com as we look in detail at the action across Asia.
Urawa Red Diamonds 1-3 Jeonbuk Motors
The eagerly anticipated contest between these two former champions in Group F ended in Jeonbuk's favour, with the 2006 winners fighting from behind to down Urawa, who lifted the Asian trophy in 2007. The hosts went ahead after six minutes through Genki Haraguchi and should have doubled the lead with both the young striker and Marcio Richardes coming close.
They were punished for the near-misses shortly after the restart, when substitute Lee Donggook laid the ball on for Lee Seunggi to draw level. The provider then turned scorer past the hour mark to put his side in front, before Eninho rounded off the comeback win. The triumph moves Jeonbuk into second place behind Guangzhou Evergrande, who hit four unanswered goals past Muang Thong United at home.
Suwon Bluewings 2-6 Kashiwa Reysol
Kashiwa produced the matchday's biggest scoreline, stunning hosts Suwon Bluewings in an eight-goal thriller. An expected close game in Group H proved to be a goal-spree for Kashiwa, for whom Junya Tanaka, Ryoichi Kurisawa and Masato Kudo each netted a brace. The hosts, though, had only themselves to blame, with Dzenan Radoncic wasting a penalty in the first half, before Jong Ta-Se, incredibly, missed the target twice more from the spot in the second half.
Leading 1-0 at the break courtesy of Tanaka's opener, the visitors doubled their advantage through Kurisawa shortly after the interval. Although Choi Jaesoo pulled one back for the hosts, Kudo restored their two-goal lead before Tanaka made it 4-1 with his second. Substitute Stevica Ristic again reduced the deficit for Suwon, but Kurisawa put the game beyond doubts and Kudo completed the rout with a stoppage-time strike. With Kashiwa running away with three straight wins, Central Coast Mariners moved into second with a 2-1 home win against Guizhou Renhe.
The other attractions
Nassir Al Shamrani struck on the half hour as Saudi champions Al Shabab of Group A saw off Tractor Sazi 1-0 at home. The result, coupled with El Jaish’s 3-1 home defeat of Al Jazira, saw Al Shabab enjoy a three-point lead at the summit, with Tractor Sazi and El Jaish trailing behind level on four points.
Pakhtakor's perfect run in Group B was brought to an abrupt close with a 3-1 loss at Lekhwiya, who moved into top place at the expense of the Uzbek giants. Al Shabab Al Arabi, meanwhile, sealed their first win with a 1-0 home win against Ettifaq, Nasser Masood scoring the match winning-goal nine minutes from time.
Sepahan of Group C threw away an early lead to lose out to Al Ahli 4-2 at home. Zhevahir Sukaj put the hosts ahead inside three minutes, but Victor Simoes struck a brace while Bruno Cesar and Amad Al Hosni were also on target as the visitors won in style. The victory maintained Al Ahli's perfect record in the campaign, with Al Gharafa hot on their heels after overcoming hosts Al Nasr by an identical scoreline.
Two late strikes from Pejman Montazeri and Arash Borhani saw Esteghlal battle from behind to edge hosts Al Hilal 2-1 to return to the top of Group D. In the other game, inaugural winners Al Ain earned a comeback win against visiting Al Rayyan by the same scoreline to maintain their hold on second.
Jiangsu Sainty coach Dragan Okuka celebrated his 59th birthday with a 2-0 home defeat of Buriram United, with two goals in as many minutes late in the first half handing the hosts their first win. The victory sent Jiangsu second in Group E behind FC Seoul, who edged Vegalta Sendai 2-1 at home.
Japanese debutants Sanfrecce Hiroshima suffered their third defeat in Group G, losing out 1-0 to Pohang Steelers at home. The victory leaves Pohang level on five points with Bunyodkor and Beijing Guoan, who negotiated a goalless draw in Tashkent.
After joining Al Gharafa on loan at the start of this season, it hasn’t taken Djibril Cisse long to prove his worth, scoring a brace in their 3-1 home defeat of Sepahan. And the former France striker continued his prolific form this week against Al Nasr, opening the scoring to set his side on the road to victory.
52 - The number of goals scored in all sixteen games across the matchday, at an average of 3.25.
What they said
“Our chance is still there although it is really hard and we will try our best to make a good comeback in the next game,” Al Nasr coach Walter Zenga after a third successive defeat.
2013 AFC Champions League matchday 3 results
2 & 3 April
Group A: El Jaish 3-1 Al Jazira, Al Shabab 1-0 Tractor Sazi
Group B: Al Shabab Al Arabi 1-0 Al Ettifaq, Lekhwiya 3-1 Pakhtakor
Group C: Sepahan 2-4 Al Ahli, Al Nasr 2-4 Al Gharafa
Group D: Al Hilal 1-2 Esteghlal, Al Ain 2-1 Al Rayyan
Group E: FC Seoul 2-1 Vegalta Sendai, Jiangsu Sainty 2-0 Buriram United
Group F: Guangzhou Evergrande 4-0 Muang Thong United, Urawa Red Diamonds 1-3 Jeonbuk Motors
Group G: Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-1 Pohang Steelers, Bunyodkor 0-0 Beijing Guoan
Group H: Central Coast Mariners 2-1 Guizhou Renhe, Suwon Bluewings 2-6 Kashiwa Reysol