Chinese, UAE sides take centre stage
© AFP

Chinese fans were treated to a delightful Matchday 3 in the AFC Champions League as all four of their teams emerged undefeated. Guangzhou Evergrande, Beijing Guoan and Shandong Luneng enjoyed the leading places in their respective groups while Guizhou Renhe kept their slim hopes alive with their first point.

The same can be said of United Arab Emirates' supporters, whose teams maintained their impressive run. In the process, both Al Ain and Al Ahli moved into the top two with victories and Al Jazira maintained their leading place despite drawing. Join FIFA.com as we review the enthralling action across Asia. 

Game of the week
Al Shabab 4-3 Al Rayyan

2010 semi-finalists Al Shabab put their 3-1 loss to Al Jazira behind them, edging out visitors Al Rayyan in a 4-3 goal-thriller at home. The victory lifted the Saudis to Group A's second place, a point adrift of Al Jazira who drew against bottom Esteghlal by 2-2 in Tehran.

In a see-saw battle in which the lead changed hands four times, Majed Al Marshadi put the hosts ahead with a powerful header inside three minutes but the visitors drew level soon after courtesy of Kalu Uche's low shot. The competition intensified thereafter, with Sayaf Mohsin giving Al Rayyan the lead on 18 minutes only to see his effort cancelled out by Ahmed Ateef.

An impressive Uche made it 3-2 in the Qataris' favour before the break with his second. But their lead proved short-lived as the Saudis restored the parity through Rafinha shortly after the restart. The Brazilian striker went on to settle the contest, latching on to a cross to score the match-winning goal.

The surprise
Pohang Steelers 2-2 Shandong Luneng

Considering their pedigree, it came as no big surprise that Pohang, despite fielding a line-up consisting entirely of home-grown players, drew against an ambitious Shandong spearheaded by in-form Brazilian star Vagner Love. However, it was the way they did it that stunned even their own supporters.

Indeed, the Korean hosts saw their hopes severely dented midway through the first half, when they were one man short and two goals down. They were twice penalised for hand ball in the area - the first led to defender Shin Kwanghoon's dismissal. Vagner Love converted from the spot on both occasions as the Chinese got off to a dream start.

Pohang, though, rallied to dominate the proceedings thereafter. Captain Kim Taesoo pulled one back just past the hour-mark and Kim Seungdae struck late to seal the hard-fought point. The result maintains the two sides' places as Group E's joint-leaders with a point clear of Cerezo, who rekindled their hopes with a 4-0 triumph at Buriram United.

The other attractions
Group C's two former winners had contrasting fortunes, with Al Ain moving to the group summit with a 3-1 home defeat of Tractor Sazi while Al Ittihad slipped to the bottom after losing 2-0 at Lekhwiya. Asamoah Gyan scored twice as his side registered their second win. Two-time semi-finalists Bunyodkor from Group B saw their hopes hang by a thread after playing out a 1-1 draw against Foolad at home, Vokhid Shodiev equalised with a stoppage-time header to earn the hosts a point. El Jaish, meanwhile, maintained their joint-leader's place alongside Foolad despite sharing the spoils at Al Fateh in a goalless tie.

Ismail Al Hammadi struck deep into stoppage time as Al Ahli from Group D beat hosts Sepahan by 2-1. Elsewhere, Thiago Neves was twice on target as his Al Hilal drew against hosts Al Sadd by 2-2. The results saw Al Sadd and Al Ahli, sharing the top place, lead Sepahan by two points, with Al Hilal remaining at the bottom. Group F's Beijing Guoan and Sanfrecce Hiroshima both registered their first wins after beating Central Coast Mariners and FC Seoul at home by the same 2-1 scoreline. Shao Jiayi and Peter Utaka struck in each half as the Chinese earned the three points they more than deserved, a result which moved them to the top of the standings.

Defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande continued their commanding run in Group G, dispatching Jeonbuk Motors by 3-1 at home to establish a three-point cushion at the summit. Chinese international Gao Lin struck a brace as Marcello Lippi's hosts prevailed in the two sides' fifth continental meeting. Melbourne Victory defeated strugglers Yokohama F. Marinos 1-0 to move level with Jeonbuk on four points. Yang Hao cancelled out Rafinha's second-half spot-kick with a glancing header as Guizhou Renhe drew 1-1 with Ulsan Hyundai for their first point. Despite the result, the Koreans remain at the top of Group H a point clear of Western Sydney Wanderers, who saw off Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 at home. 

The player
Having seen his first Champions League end with his Al Ain failing to progress beyond the group phase last year, Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan entered this year's competition seeking to redeem himself on the Asian scene. He has been on target in each game so far, including a brace as his side defeated Al Rayyan.

The stat
- No teams have stayed perfect past the halfway point, with both Al Jaziria and Ulsan Hyundai seeing their unblemished record end after dropping points.

What they said
"We are still in the process of trying to find our best shape (despite the win). We haven’t managed that yet, neither mentally nor physically, and at this moment the team has to stay united, everyone has to be devoted," said Guangzhou Evergrande coach Marcello Lippi

Matchday 3 results
18 & 19 March

Group A: Esteghlal 2-2 Al Jazira, Al Shabab 4-3 Al Rayyan
Group B: Bunyodkor 1-1 Foolad, Al Fateh 0-0 El Jaish
Group C: Lekhwiya 2-0 Al Ittihad, Al Ain 3-1 Tractor Sazi
Group D: Sepahan 1-2 Al Ahli, Al Sadd 2-2 Al Hilal
Group E: Cerezo Osaka 4-0 Buriram United, Pohang Steelers 2-2 Shandong Luneng
Group F: Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 FC Seoul, Beijing Guoan 2-1 Central Coast Mariners
Group G: Melbourne Victory 1-0 Yokohama F. Marinos, Guangzhou Evergrande 3-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai
Group H: Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 Kawasaki Frontale, Ulsan Hyundai 1-1 Guizhou Renhe