Brazilians to the fore in Asia
Bunyodkor's Brazilian connection proved too much for Saudi powerhouses Al Ittihad in a 3-0 defeat in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday, while there were mixed fortunes for Japanese teams.
The rich Uzbek club, with former Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari in charge, tempted striker Denilson away from defending champions Pohang Steelers in the close-season and he got himself on the scoreboard in the 66th minute.
Veteran Brazilian Rivaldo set them on their way by curling home a left-footed shot into the top corner from 25 yards after just three minutes, leaving last year's finalists stunned. Al Ittihad were looking shaky at the back and Jasur Hasanov made it 2-0 on 21 minutes before Denilson wrapped it up in the second half, heading his first goal for his new club.
Asia's top club competition got underway with eight matches on Tuesday and another eight on Wednesday as the battle began to reach the final in November, with the winner assured of a place in the FIFA Club World Cup.
J.League stalwarts Kashima Antlers saw off China's Changchun Yatai, with a solitary goal from skipper Koji Nakata enough to secure three points. The breakthrough came in the 42nd minute when Nakata, taking the armband in place of suspended Mitsuo Ogasawara, jumped to nod in from midfielder Takuya Nozawa's free kick. "We are targeting to win the championship this season. Although our next game is away, I really want to be back home with a win," said Nakata.
The other Japanese side playing Tuesday, Kawaskai Frontale, were less fortunate, crashing 3-0 to Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa. Former Colombia international Mauricio Molina put the seven-time K-League champions ahead in the first-half and created the second goal late in the game for Montenegrin Dzenan Radoncic.
"It was a good team effort and we managed to get a good result. I am so happy to win our opening match at home and get our 2010 AFC Champions League campaign off to a good start," said coach Shin Tae-Young.
Chinese champions Beijing Guoan, meanwhile, beat Melbourne Victory 1-0 at home while Korean outfit Jeonbuk Motors proved far too good for Indonesian minnows Persipura Jayapura, winning 4-1.
In other games, UAE's Al Jazira face Qatar's Al Gharafa later while Saudi side Al Ahli take on Iran's Estheghlal and Champions League newcomers Zobahan of Iran play Al Wahda of UAE.