Japanese heavyweights Kashima Antlers powered into the last 16 of the AFC Champions League on Tuesday for the third year in a row and were joined by Korea Republic's Jeonbuk Motors. The J.League leaders trampled Indonesian minnows Persipura Jayapura 3-1 in Jakarta to leave them unbeaten after four games and on top of Group F.
Jeonbuk Motors also went through from the group after grinding out a 1-0 home win over China's Changchun Yatai. A fine 54th minute strike by former Middlesbrough man Lee Dong-Gook was enough to secure a win for the Koreans. It leaves them on nine points, six ahead of Changchun in third with two games remaining but with a superior head-to-head record.
Kashima's in-form midfielder Yasushi Endo put his side in front after just two minutes at a virtually empty Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, volleying home a left wing cross from Brazilian defender Gilton. Surprisingly for a team that has conceded 21 goals and scored just one in their Champions League debut, Persipura snatched a shock equaliser through striker Tinus Pae on 19 minutes.
Shinzo Koroki restored Kashima's lead seven minutes later when he nicely controlled a Takuya Nozawa pass and whipped the ball past the goalkeeper. Atsuto Uchida smashed the third to kill the game off 10 minutes before the break.
In Group H, Adelaide United could have sealed a knockout-stage spot with a win over Japanese strugglers Sanfrecce Hiroshima, but they failed to take their chance, forced onto the back foot for much of the game in a 1-0 defeat. Hiroshima skipper Hisato Sato broke the deadlock shortly before half-time with a neat header after a pinpoint cross from Koji Nakajima.
It leaves Adelaide on nine points, level with defending champions Pohang Steelers of Korea Republic who needed an 84th minute goal from Kim Tae-Su to secure a 2-1 victory over China's Shandong Luneng. Kim Jae-Sung opened the scoring on 51 minutes before Li Jinyu pulled one back for the home team with 16 minutes left, setting up an exciting finale. The defeat leaves Shandong on three points and needing to win their last two games to keep alive their slim hopes.
Bunyodkor crash again
Former Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari's Bunyodkor slumped to defeat against Group B leaders Zobahan, with Brazilian veteran Rivaldo sent off. The Uzbek champions were beaten 3-0 by Zobahan last week and crashed 1-0 on Tuesday with Mohamad Reza Khalatbari getting the winner on the half hour mark.
Two-time champions Al Ittihad, meanwhile, took full advantage of Scolari's woes as they moved into second spot in the table after thumping Al Wahda of the United Arab Emirates 4-0 in Saudi Arabia. The hosts had wrapped up the points after 19 minutes as they were already 3-0 up by then with Saud Ali Khariri grabbing a brace in three minutes.
Al Hilal moved atop of Group D with a 3-2 away win over Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates, thanks to an injury-time goal from Lee Young Pyo. The Saudi team had taken a 2-0 lead after 15 minutes through Yasser al-Qahtani and Christian Vilhelmsson, Al Ahli pulling two back through Ahmed Aljunaibi and Clederson before the South Korean struck.
Al Sadd of Qatar remained in second despite going down 3-1 to Mes Kerman, who also have six points in third on goal difference. Eder Luciano, Ali Samareh and Paulo Zaltron were on the scoreboard for the Iranian side after Al Sadd had taken an early lead through Khalfan al-Khalfan.