Asia/Oceania Leagues review

This week’s review of league action across Asia and Oceania stretches from New Zealand in the east to Jordan in the west with all featured competitions at differing stages. In Australia, Brisbane Roar were crowned league champions for the first time amid high drama, while Korea Republic’s elite are already struggling after just two rounds. FIFA.com also looks at the leagues of Iran, Qatar and Thailand with the leaders all experiencing contrasting fortunes.

Korea Republic K-League: Suwon set the pace
Just two teams have maintained perfect records after two rounds with four-time champions Suwon Bluewings edging Gwangju FC 2-1 for their second straight victory, while Gyeongnam FC continued their winning form registering a solitary-goal home win over Ulsan Hyundai Horangi. Meanwhile, defending champions FC Seoul again struggled, fortunately drawing 1-1 against Daejeon Citizen for their opening point of the season. Similarly disappointing have been reigning Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, who also have just a point to their name following their 1-0 defeat against Jeonbuk Motors.

Big game: Colossal Croatian defender Mato Neretljak was the hero for Suwon with two second-half goals helping his side to a comeback victory against Gwangju and, with it, top spot on goal difference. Despite home advantage, Suwon were caught out inside the opening minute as the visitors went ahead courtesy of Kim Dong-Sub. After squandering a host of chances in the opening half, the hosts finally drew level on 75 minutes before sealing the victory five minutes later.
Headline-grabber: Kim Jung-Woo has taken an early lead as the league’s top-scorer with three goals from two matches helping Sangju Sangmu Phoenix into the top three. After scoring a brace in their opening 2-0 win against Incheon United, the Korea Republic midfielder was on target again netting their third in a 3-3 thriller against Busan I’Park.

Iran Pro League: Sepahan edge closer to Zob Ahan
The title-race picked up pace over the weekend as Sepahan registered a crucial 2-0 win over Naft Tehran to reduce the gap behind leaders Zob Ahan to just one point, with the long-time leaders only managing a 2-2 draw at mid-table Rah Ahan. Also dropping points were Esteghlal, who were held to a goalless draw by Saipa to remain third.

Big game: Zob Ahan were made to sweat against Rah Ahan with their blushes only saved by Mohammed Reza Khalatbari's injury-time goal. Zob Ahan took the lead courtesy of Mohammad Ghazi Najafabadi after three minutes but Iman Razaghirad equalised for the hosts on 68 minutes, before Meysan Aghaei put them ahead with seven minutes remaining. Khalatbari then struck in added time to secure the point which maintains Zob Ahan’s slender lead at the top with eight rounds remaining.
Headline-grabber: Foolad may be well out of title-contention but their ace-striker Reza Norouzi continues to hit the headlines through his scoring form. A double in a 2-0 win at Peykan sees him top the scoring chart with 16 goals.

Qatar Stars League: Stalemate for top-two
The top-of-the-table meeting in Qatar between leaders Lekhwiya and second-placed Al Arabi ended in a 1-1 draw on Saturday, leaving the former maintaining a five-point cushion at the top. The visitors looked set to inflict just a third defeat of the season on the frontrunners after Abdul Aziz Hatem opened the scoring on the hour-mark, but Ivorian striker Bakari Kone came to the rescue two minutes from time to secure the hosts a precious point.

Big game: Al Gharafa continued their disappointing run this season with the defending champions suffering a third consecutive defeat, this time edged out by hosts Al Rayyan 3-2. In the process the home side twice came from behind to draw level, before Rodrigo Tabata struck late to seal a famous win.
Headline-grabber: Moroccan midfielder Anouar Diba stole the show on Saturday, scoring four times to steer Al Wakra to a 5-2 win against Al Siliya. However, the losing side's striker Moumouni Dagano that continues to dominate the scoring chart with two more goals extending his tally to 14.

Elsewhere
Brisbane Roar claimed their first Australian A-League crown in the most dramatic circumstances imaginable. Playing at home the Roar were warm favourites against Central Coast Mariners on the back of a 27-match unbeaten run, however the hosts needed to rely on two goals in the final four minutes of extra time to force penalties. Erik Paartalu headed an equaliser with the last play of the match before Roar goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos saved two spot-kicks for a 4-2 triumph in the shoot-out.

Perennial New Zealand league favourites, Waitakere United and Auckland City, have both taken a significant step towards a berth in the championship decider after victories in their respective semi-final first-legs. Waitakere scored a mammoth 6-2 victory Canterbury United with Ryan de Vries and Dakota Lucas both bagging two goals. Two late away goals for Auckland at a ten-man Team Wellington will likely prove an insurmountable hurdle for the side from the capital in the second leg.

Jordan's runaway leaders Al Wahdat maintain their place at the top of the standings despite staying inactive over the past week. Defending champions Al Faysali were unable to make up ground after being stunned 2-1 by midtable Al Buqaa, and now lie eight points off the pace having played a match extra.

In Thailand, ambitious Muang Thong United registered their first win of the campaign by seeing off Thai Port 2-0, with the champions previously claiming just one point from their opening two matches. Royal Thai Army were held 1-1 by Bangkok Glass to concede top spot on goal difference to Chonburi who hit half-a-dozen unanswered goals past Tot-Cat.