The quarter-final picture of this year's AFC Champions League was completed on Wednesday as four East Asian teams won their way through to join the already-qualified West Asian quartet in the last eight.
Korea Republic had cause to celebrate after two of their three teams sealed progression. FC Seoul overcame their Japanese hosts Kashima Antlers with a breath-taking penalty shootout victory, while Pohang Steelers were in scintillating form firing six unanswered goals past the visiting Australian club Newcastle Jets.
However the biggest upset of the day belonged to Kawasaki Frontale, who twice came from behind to topple strongly favoured defending champions Gamba Osaka 3-2. In the final match of the evening, Nagoya Grampus dispatched Korean champions Suwon Bluewings 2-1 to secure their spot in the next stage.
Game of the day
Gamba Osaka 2-3 Kawasaki Frontale
In a much-anticipated all Japanese encounter, it was a pair of Brazilian's that stole the show. Shining throughout the opening half was Gamba Osaka marksman Leandro, who put the hosts ahead after 27 minutes, and though Kawasaki pulled level through Kengo Nakamura, the tournament top scorer headed home his second six minutes from the break to restore their lead and extend his scoring tally in the competition to ten. The second half saw Leandro's countryman Renatinho hit Kawasaki's equalizer, before substitute Masaru Kurotsu latched onto a through ball from Nakamura to score the winner five minutes from time.
Surprise of the day
Pohang Steelers 6-0 Newcastle Jets
Choi Hyo-Jin contributed three goals plus an assist as Pohang Steelers pulled off a remarkable 6-0 home win over Australia's Newcastle Jets. Brazilian striker Denilson broke the deadlock for Pohang with a spot kick after nine minutes and it took just six minutes to double the lead with Choi firing home from a sharp angle to virtually end the contest before it had started. Pohang continued to dominate a sluggish out-of-season Jets with three more goals scored in a period of twelve minutes. After Kim Jae-Sung made it 3-0 on 56 minutes, Choi collected a Denilson cut-back to bury a powerful low shot into the bottom corner. The 25-year-old then completed his hat trick with 18 minutes remaining with a glancing header, before Stevica Ristic capped a memorable night with a final goal late on.
It proved to be a seesaw battle in Kashima with the Antlers going ahead after just five minutes and the visiting FC Seoul drawing level soon after. Takeshi Aoki restored the hosts' lead shortly after the interval but Ki Sung-Yueng cancelled out his effort by firing a spectacular free-kick into the back of net. The visitors looked the more adventurous of the two sides but despite failing to convert the numerous chances in the remaining minutes and extra time, they kept their cool to prevail in the penalty shootout with Park Yong-Ho scoring the match-winning spot kick.
It was a different story for another Korean side Suwon Bluewings, who were edged out 2-1 by hosts Nagoya Grampus. The visitors had the lion's share of possession but the home side opened the scoring after 22 minutes courtesy of Yoshizumi Ogama. After Keiji Tamada extended the hosts' lead on the 66th minute, the Korean champions threw everything forward with Edu pulling one back for them three minutes later. Profligate finishing however took its toll with the Japanese side able to cling onto their one-goal lead.
Player of the day
Having set up Shinji Okazaki for the only goal against Uzbekistan which sealed Japan's qualification for South Africa 2010, Kengo Nakamura continued to showcase his talents on the continental stage, netting the equalizer before teeing Masaru Kurotsu up for the match-winning goal against Gamba.
What they said
"I used tactics that Newcastle Jets would not have expected and I think it worked well. We performed well and I am happy to see a lot of goals scored tonight. Our aim was to proceed to the next round and that mission has been accomplished," Pohang Steelers coach Sergio Farias.
2009 AFC Champions League Round of 16 fixtures:
24 June (East Asia)
Nagoya Grampus (JPN) 2-1 Suwon Bluewings (KOR)
Gamba Osaka (JPN) 2-3 Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)
Kashima Antlers (JPN) 2-2 PSO 4-5 FC Seoul (KOR)
Pohang Steelers (KOR) 6-0 Newcastle Jets (AUS)