Former world player of the year Rivaldo repaid Uzbekistan outfit Kuruvchi's faith in his continued prowess on Wednesday by scoring for them in their 2-2 draw away at Iranian side Saipa in their AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg match.
The 36-year-old playmaker, FIFA World Player of the Year in 1999, netted Kuruvchi's second to give them a 2-1 lead which was only cancelled out by an unfortunate goal in the 39th minute by Kianoush Rahmati, which took a wicked deflection off a Uzbek defender.
However, Kuruvchi coach Mirdjalal Kasimov felt his side had been robbed of victory. Chilean striker Jose Luis Villanueva, who had got the Uzbeks off the mark, thought he had grabbed the winner in the 55th minute when his fierce effort hit a post and went into the arms of the Saipa goalkeeper. However, the referee waved aside Villanueva's claims that the ball had crossed the line.
"The goalkeeper definitely reached behind him to gather the ball and our fans seemed quite certain that it was in, and they were in a position to see that it had," said Kasimov.
Japanese sides had mixed results on Wednesday, although defending champions Urawa Reds won't be too disappointed with a 3-2 defeat against Kuwaiti outfit Al Qadsia. The Reds can thank Brazilian Edmilson for keeping them in the tie as he netted twice in a thriller in Kuwait.
Gamba Osaka will feel well satisified with a stunning 2-1 away win over tough Syrian outfit Al Karama. It was all the more creditable as they came from behind to win after going behind after just seven minutes.
Earlier, Japanese rivals Kashima Antlers had battled to a 1-1 draw with Adelaide United at home. Adelaide captain Travis Dodd broke the deadlock with a header in the 38th minute when Kashima defender Toru Araiba deflected a cross toward him.
But the J-League champions levelled the score in injury time when Atsuto Uchida's long cross from the right hit Adelaide defender Robert Cornthwaite's leg in the area and bounced off the left post into the net. "It was really a tough match against a team full of quality players," Kashima coach Oswaldo Oliveira said. "We need to prepare for the second leg with care."
Kashima will travel Down Under to face the A-League stalwarts next Wednesday.