It was a welcome return to form for the Japanese champions, who were beaten 4-1 in their opening match by Suwon Bluewings, then lost in their domestic competition over the weekend. The defeat in Suwon dented the confidence of a team that have never thrived in continental competitions despite their record of six J-League titles in 13 seasons.
However, they showed character to bounce back against Shanghai, runners-up in last year's Chinese Super League, who were in confident mood after beating Singapore Armed Forces 4-1 in their opening game. Boosted by the signings of Australian international Mark Milligan and Belarus forward Vyacheslav Hleb, younger brother of Barcelona star Alexander, Shanghai proved to be the better team early on.
However, it was Kashima midfielder Takuya Nozawa who got the crucial opening goal just before the break when he latched on to a pinpoint pass from Yuya Osako and fired beyond goalkeeper Zhang Chen. Shanghai pressed hard for the equaliser but their heads dropped when Du Wei, captain of the Chinese national team, was sent off for a second yellow card in the 68th minute and Osako sealed the win with 11 minutes to go.
Kawasaki Frontale, who won their opening game, grabbed a point against Korean FA Cup winners Pohang Steelers in a game featuring a heavy South American flavour with five Brazilians in action. Choi Hyo-Jin scored the opener for the home team in the 12th minute before Shuhei Terada equalised midway through the half. Despite numerous chances neither side could find the killer punch. Pohang now have two points from two games while Kawasaki have four.
In the other match in the group, China's Tianjin Teda were forced to come from behind to draw 2-2 at home against much-improved Australian outfit Central Coast Mariners.
In the West Asia zone matches, Iranian powerhouse Esteghlal go looking for their first points of the tournament against United Arab Emirates hotshots Al Jazira while Saudi giants Al Ittihad travel to Qatar to play Umm-Salal. Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor face Al Shabab Al Arabi in Dubai and Saudi Arabia's Ettifaq take on Iran's Foolad Sepahan.