Japan's Cerezo Osaka smashed four unanswered goals past Chinese outfit Shandong Luneng to reach the AFC Champions League knock-out phase, joining Kashima Antlers in the last 16.
Earlier, 2006 champions Jeonbuk Motors confirmed their supremacy in Group G with a 6-0 rout of Arema Indonesia, who depart the competition with just one point from six games and a goal difference of minus 14. Korea Republic's Suwon Bluewings were playing bottom-placed Shanghai Shenhua in Group H with the aim of securing top spot and crucial home advantage for this month's one-off Round of 16 matches.
Cerezo needed only to avoid defeat against Group G rivals Shandong but it wasn't until the 39th minute that nerves were settled in the Nagai Stadium by the opener from Brazilian forward Rodrigo Pimpao Vianna. It was the cue for a second-half demolition job as Inui Takashi, Kiyotake Hiroshi and finally Kurata Shu put the game past Shandong, confirming Cerezo's participation in the next round.
Kashima, who are currently playing their home games at Tokyo's National Stadium after their own ground was damaged by the recent earthquake and tsunami, came from a goal down to beat Sydney FC 2-1. Kashima had already qualified for the Round of 16 and would have topped the group had Suwon failed to beat later in the evening.
Coach Oswaldo Oliveira said the Antlers were now focused on winning Asia's top club competition. "I think we should be appreciated for getting through the group round under severe conditions following the earthquake; the halt of the league, the change of home games, which affected the conditions and feelings of my players," he said. "The Champions League has been becoming tougher and tougher every year, but we don't change our goal to achieve the summit," added the Brazilian.
After Matthew Jurman's nodded opener for Sydney, Kashima had to wait until the 64th minute for Yuya Osako's equaliser through a close-range volley. Six minutes from time, midfielder Takuya Nozawa scored a low 25-yard free-kick through the Sydney wall to secure full points.
In Jeonju, Croatian Kruno Lovrek scored in the very first minute and again in first-half injury time, and then again on the hour as Jeonbuk Motors roared past hapless Arema. Kim Dong-Chan, Jeong Shung-Hoon and Kang Seung-Jo were also on the scoresheet as the South Koreans finished the group stage with 15 out of a possible 18 points. "We wanted to finish first in the group and I am happy that we did so," said coach Choi Kang-Hee. "I am grateful to the players for giving their all until the end."
In east Asia's final match, Suwon's Ha Tae-Goon struck either side of half-time before Sin Se-Gye rounded off the scoring on 89 minutes, leaving hosts Shanghai rock-bottom in Group H.
Later in the evening on the west side of the continent Emirates' hopes of reaching the last 16 were ended by a 2-0 defeat to Qatari side Al Rayyan, with second-half strikes by defender Aldbulghafoor Murad and substitute Ahmed Alaa. Emirates finished third in Group D on six points, two above Al Rayyan who picked up just their first win of the group campaign.
In the other group match, Iranian table toppers Zob Ahan fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to Al Shabab, a result which did not threaten their qualification and cemented second spot for their Saudi Arabian visitors who finished five points clear of Emirates.
In Group C Al Wahda of United Arab Emirates secured a 2-0 win over Persepolis, a result which left the Iranians rooted to the bottom of the table and Al Wahda just beyond qualification in third place. The other group match saw Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad draw 1-1 with Bunyodkor and hang onto first.
The top two teams from eight groups qualify for the last 16, before two-legged quarter and semi-finals followed by a one-off final in November.