J.League champions Nagoya Grampus sealed a place in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League with a deserved 1-0 win over Hangzhou Greentown of China on Wednesday.
The injury-hit Japanese side have 10 points from five matches in Group F, with only one round of group matches still to play. They sit three points clear of Korea Republic's FC Seoul, playing Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates later.
Nagoya had a goal ruled out for off-side and also hit the post but their efforts finally paid off when forward Hikaru Kuba, chasing a long ball into the area, was pulled down by Hangzhou goalkeeper Jiang Bo for a penalty. Jiang received a yellow card and Jungo Fujimoto scored from the spot with about 15 minutes remaining.
"Before the game we faced a lot of problems (with injuries), but today I think we achieved our goal - it was to make a good game to win and to qualify for the next round," Nagoya coach Dragan Stojkovic said.
Speaking about the knockout round, he said: "My expectation is that all the players should be fit, first of all. And of course we are going there game by game to play our football in our style. Then after that we will see the result."
In the pick of the later matches, the top two in Group A, Iran's Foolad Mobarekeh Sepahan and Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia meet while Qatar's Al Gharafa clash with Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates in the same group. In Group B, Saudi side Al Nassr play Uzbek outfit Pakhtakor.
The Group E matches see table-topping Tianjin Teda of China take on Korea's Jeju United while Melbourne Victory play Gamba Osaka. Thirty-two teams play home and away in eight groups to qualify for the knockout stages starting in May.