The line-up for the AFC Champions League knockout stage is complete after a tense final round saw nine further teams progress to the last 16. It proved to be a perfect group campaign for Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of whom have seen their three representatives through to the next phase.
Japan also have a trio in the last 16 despite the surprise early exit of Gamba Osaka, while Guangzhou Evergrande and Bunyodkor scraped through to become the lone participants from China PR and Uzbekistan. Qatar, however, despite being home to last year’s winners Al Sadd, had a miserable campaign with their quartet ousted, while Korea Republic saw their teams halved with the surprise elimination of former winners, Pohang Steelers and Jeonbuk Motors. Join FIFA.com as we look back in detail at the showdowns across the continent.
Bani Yas 2-0 Pakhtakor
Having seen their trio of representatives fail to progress beyond the group stage last year, United Arab Emirates bounced back in style with debutants Bani Yas powering through from Group B to join compatriots Al Jazira in the next round. Needing just a point against Pakhtakor at home to claim the second qualifying spot behind Al Ittihad, the UAE league runners-up got off to an ideal start when Senegalese forward Andre Senghor latched onto a Fawzi Bashir cross to put the hosts ahead on 13 minutes.
Knowing only a win could take them through, the visitors hit back hard but Amer Abdulrahman tapped in from close range to seal the contest 19 minutes from time. In the other match, Al Ittihad twice came from behind to edge Al Arabi 3-2 as they rounded off the group phase in winning fashion. Finishing as group winners, the Jeddah giants will play at home against Persepolis in the one-off Round of 16 meeting. Bani Yas, meanwhile, face a challenging task at Al Hilal.
Jeonbuk Motors 0-2 Kashiwa Reysol
Featuring the league champions from Japan, Korea Republic, China PR and Thailand, Group H proved to be the most unpredictable with first-timers Kashiwa Reysol advancing at the expense of last year's runners-up Jeonbuk Motors. In the other match Guangzhou Evergrande edged surprise packages Buriram United with a late winner to also make it through. Having begun miserably with back-to-back 5-1 defeats, Jeonbuk rallied to win the next three outings to enter the closing matchday as section leaders, in the knowledge that a home draw against Kashiwa would be enough to seal passage. However, the Japanese visitors stole the show with Leandro Domingues breaking the deadlock shortly after the interval, before Junya Tanaka secured a 2-0 victory just past the hour.
Guangzhou, meanwhile, won 2-1 at Buriram United courtesy of Dario Conca's injury-time penalty although they were made to sweat for the win. The result, coupled with Kashiwa's 2-0 triumph, saw the Chinese advance as group winners. The victory sets up a tie against FC Tokyo in a meeting of debutants, while Kashiwa face Ulsan Hyundai who play at home.
The other attractions
In Group A, Goran Jerkovic and Mojtaba Jabari scored in each half as Esteghlal won 2-0 at Nasaf to clinch second spot behind Al Jazira. However, they have been handed a hard assignment in the form of compatriots Sepahan, who recently won the Iranian league for a third consecutive time. Section winners Al Jazira, who got past Al Rayyan in a 4-3 thriller, have been rewarded for their impressive campaign with a home match against Al Ahli.
Persepolis of Group D came from a goal down to beat hosts Al Shabab 3-1 to make sure of their progression. Sealing the section’s top place, however, were in-form Al Hilal who scored all three goals, including an own goal, as they saw off Al Gharafa 2-1.
Needing just a point at Bunyodkor to secure Group E's second spot behind Adelaide United, 2009 champions Pohang United saw their continental campaign brought to an abrupt close with a 1-0 defeat. Anvar Gafurov's 48th-minute header proved the difference as the Uzbek champions progressed beyond the group stage for a fifth consecutive time. Awaiting them in the next round, however, are K-League giants Seongnam Ilhwa who will enjoy home advantage. In the other match, a 2-0 win at Gamba Osaka sealed top place for Adelaide who will host Nagoya Grampus in the next stage.
Seongnam Ilhwa maintained their smooth campaign in Group G, with a 3-0 victory at Tianjin Teda with Serbian striker Vladimir Jovancic twice on target. In the other game, striking veteran Keiji Tamada struck the opener, while Jungo Fujimoto and Markus Tulio Tanaka also found the net as Nagoya Grampus dispatched Central Coast Mariners by an identical scoreline to stay level with Seongnam on points, only to trail behind on goal difference.
Brazilian Ricardo Oliveira scored all four goals as Al Jazira overcame Al Rayyan as he extended his scoring tally to 10, edging the tournament's all-time record set by compatriot Leandro in 2008.
6 - Al Jazira, Al Ittihad, Al Hilal, Ulsan Hyundai, Nagoya Grampus and Seongnam Ilhwa all managed to remain undefeated in their six group matches.
What they said
"We have players who are good enough to play patiently. We showed our discipline although there were times we could have forced it. So the patience in our play was, in the end, what gave us the result," Adelaide United coach Luciano Trani
AFC Champions League Matchday 6 results
Group A: Nasaf 0-2 Esteghlal, Al Rayyan 3-4 Al Jazira
Group B: Bani Yas 2-0 Pakhtakor, Al Ittihad 3-2 Al Arabi
Group C: Lekhwiya 1-2 Al Nasr, Sepahan 2-1 Al Ahli
Group D: Al Hilal 2-1 Al Gharafa, Al Shabab 1-3 Persepolis
Group E: Bunyodkor 1-0 Pohang Steelers, Gamba Osaka 0-2 Adelaide United
Group F: Brisbane Roar 1-1 Beijing Guoan, Ulsan Hyundai 1-0 FC Tokyo
Group G: Nagoya Grampus 3-0 Central Coast Mariners, Tianjin Teda 0-3 Seongnam Ilhwa
Group H: Jeonbuk Motors 0-2 Kashiwa Reysol, Buriram United 1-2 Guangzhou Evergrande