Japan's Vegalta Sendai and Thai side Buriram United rescued their Asian campaigns with upset wins today, throwing their AFC Champions League group wide open.
Sendai beat FC Seoul 1-0, inflicting the first defeat of the competition on the Group E leaders from Korea Republic and denying them an early berth in the knock-out phase. And Buriram stunned China's Jiangsu Sainty 2-0 as they clawed their way off the bottom to lie on five points, the same number as Sendai and two behind leaders Seoul with two games to go.
Elsewhere, J.League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima earned their first point in a 1-1 away draw with Pohang Steelers, preventing an early exit and keeping alive their faint hopes of reaching the last-16.
Sendai almost got off to the perfect start as Brazilian striker Wilson hit the bar in the eighth minute. But it was former Japan international forward Atsushi Yanagisawa who struck the only goal of the game, heading in from a Ryang Yong-Gi corner on 16 minutes. Seoul came close to the equaliser in the second half when Dejan Damjanovic also struck the bar, before Mauricio Molina's shot was saved and Kim Ju-Young's header went wide.
In Buriram, backed by vociferous home support, the hosts took the lead in the first half through Suchao Nutnum, and Charyl Chappuis fired home the second on the hour-mark when he stretched to meet a ball behind the defence from Kai Hirano. But the Swiss-born player's joy was tempered when he injured his right knee during his celebration and had to be stretchered from the pitch.
In Group G, Naoki Ishihara sparked hopes of a Sanfrecce win when he scored on 62 minutes, but the lead was quickly snuffed out by Hwang Jin-Sung's tap-in for Pohang five minutes later.