Title holders Gamba Osaka maintained their impressive momentum with a dominant 3-0 win over Indonesia's Sriwijaya for their fourth successive victory in Matchday 4 of this year's AFC Champions League. The win, coupled with Shandong Luneng's 1-1 draw against hosts FC Seoul in the other Group F fixture, sent the Japanese side through to the last 16 with two matches to spare.
Joining Gamba in the last sixteen are fellow J.League side Kawasaki Frontale, who qualified in Group H thanks to their home 2-1 victory over Australia's Central Coast combined with a scoreless draw between hosts Tianjin Teda and Pohang Steelers.
In Central Asia, two-time semi-finalists Pakhtakor also booked qualification after the Uzbek giants came from a goal down to beat Iran's Saba Battery 2-1 in Tashkent, while UAE's Al Ahli lost 3-1 at home to Saudi big guns Al Hilal 3-1. Join FIFA.com as we look back at all the Matchday 4 action.
Game of the day
Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) 2-1 Central Coast (AUS)
Few would have been willing to back the visitors after Kawasaki Frontale pulled off a remarkable 5-0 away triumph in the first head-to-head a fortnight ago, and the form book appeared to be an accurate gauge as the Japanese hosts took the lead courtesy of Juninho only seconds into the second half. Despite torrential rain Takashi Sekizuka's charges looked to be heading for another win, only for the visitors to level through their combative striker Matt Simon who managed to volley past Eiji Kawashima just before the hour-mark. However Central Coast's hopes of an unlikely draw were dashed as Brazilian substitute Renatinho headed home from close range with nine minutes remaining.
Surprise of the day
Al Gharafa (QAT) 5-1 Persepolis (IRN)
Brazilian Araujo completed a hat-trick as Al Gharafa spectacularly avenged their 3-1 defeat to Iran's Persepolis in the opening leg with a resounding 5-1 triumph. After his countryman Fernandao put the hosts ahead after eight minutes, Araujo then scored two quick goals prior to the interval, before Iraqi hero Nashat Akram blasted home from close range on 69 minutes to put the game beyond doubt. Team Melli star Ali Karimi pulled one back for the visitors but Araujo would have the last say completing his treble ten minutes from time to cap a memorable win for the hosts. Despite the loss, Persepolis are still a point clear of third-placed Al Gharafa but three behind leaders Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia, who pulled off a home 5-0 win over UAE's Sharjah.
The other headliner
Pakhtakor (UZB) 2-1 Saba Battery (IRN)
With only two points gained from their three matches, Saba Battery went into their clash against Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor desperate to register their first win. Their offensive efforts soon paid dividends as Mohammad Nori put the visitors into the ascendency after only five minutes. Despite the early setback, Pakhtakor were quick to hit back and their equalizer came on 31 minutes as skipper Odil Ahmedov converted from the penalty spot. Midfielder Stanislav Andreev then volleyed home four minutes into the second half to seal the narrow win and all but end the Iranian club's interest in this year's competition. In the other group match, Al Hilal's 3-1 away win over Al Ahli not only helped seal Pakhtakor's passage to the knockout stage, but also cemented second place.
Group C produced two 1-1 scorelines that saw Al Ittihad remain atop the standings one point clear of Qatar's UMM-Salal, who came from a goal down to draw with Iranian hosts Esteghlal. In Group D, Uzbek international Timur Kapadze scored the only goal against Iran's Sepahan to help Bunyodkor into second place two points behind leaders Ettifaq of Saudi Arabia, who stunned their UAE hosts Al Arabi 4-1.
After disappointing in their 2-1 loss against Shanghai Shenhua a fortnight ago, Korean champions Suwon Bluewings bounced back to defeat their Chinese visitors by the same scoreline. The result helped the visitors remain level on nine points with leaders Kashima Antlers, who fired five unanswered goals past Singapore's Armed Forces. In Group E, the away sides came out on top with Nagoya Grampus maintaining pole position thanks to their solitary-goal win over hosts Newcastle Jets who were left to lament Sasho Petrovski's second-half penalty miss. Despite losing their opening two matches Ulsan Hyundai moved into second after registered their second 1-0 victory over Beijing Guoan.
What they said
"We defended well and created most of the best chances. I'm very proud of how the team came back from the 5-0 defeat, but unfortunately we didn't get something from the game," Central Coast coach Lawrie McKinna.
2009 AFC Champions League Matchday 4 results:
Group A: Pakhtakor (UZB) 2-1Saba Battery (IRN); Al Ahli (UAE) 1-3 Al Hilal (KSA)
Group B: Al Shabab (KSA) 5-0 Sharjah (UAE); Al Gharafa (QAT) 5-1 Persepolis (IRN)
Group C: Esteghlal (IRN) 1-1 UMM-Salal (QAT); Al Ittihad (KSA) 1-1-Al Jazira (UAE)
Group D: Al Arabi (UAE) 1-4 Ettifaq (KSA); Sepahan (IRN) 0-1 Bunyodkor (UZB)
Group E: Newcastle Jets (AUS) 0-1 Nagoya Grampus (JPN); Beijing Guoan (CHN) 0-1 Ulsan Hyundai (KOR)
Group F: FC Seoul (KOR) 1-1 Shandong Luneng (CHN); Sriwijaya (IDN) 0-3 Gamba Osaka (JPN)
Group G: Kashima Antlers (JPN) 5-0 Armed Forces (SIN); Suwon Bluewings (KOR) 2-1 Shanghai Shenhua (CHN)
Group H: Tianjin Teda (CHN) 0-0 Pohang Steelers (KOR); Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) 2-1 Central Coast (AUS)