Kashima, Adelaide remain unbeaten
Japanese giants Kashima Antlers and Australia's Adelaide United powered to victories in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday to keep their unbeaten records intact.
Kashima crushed Indonesian minnows Persipura Jayapura 5-0 with strikes by Yuya Osako, Toru Araiba, and Mitsuo Ogasawara and a brace from Brazilian striker Marquinhos making it three wins out of three. The J.League outfit started strongly but the slippery conditions hampered them until Araiba made the breakthrough on 39 minutes when his cross found the net.
A minute into first-half injury time and Marquinhos doubled their lead after meeting a Daiki Iwamasa corner kick. Kashima were in a different class and three more goals in the second-half ended a miserable night for hapless Persipura who have now conceded 13 times in three games.
Korea Republic international Lee Dong-Gook's last-gasp goal helped secure a hard-fought 2-1 victory for Jeonbuk Motors over Changchun Yatai in the other Group F game. Substitute Du Zhenyu put hosts Changchun ahead in the 64th minute with a left-footed drive that was cancelled out by Choi Tae-Uk 10 minutes later. Lee scored the winner for the K-League champions five minutes before the final whistle, curling home Seo Jung-Jin's pass inside the box.
At Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide moved closer to the knockout round with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Group H. Adelaide bounced back after Sanfrecce took the lead, scoring twice in four minutes to remain unbeaten.
Captain Travis Dodd opened the scoring with a glancing header after 11 minutes but Sanfrecce raced to a 2-1 lead after a volley from Kazuyuki Morisaki in the 55th minute and a header from Issei Takayanagi 20 minutes later. But giant defender Robert Cornthwaite headed a 78th-minute equaliser and Brazilian Cassio found the net with a deflected free-kick to claim victory for the Reds with eight minutes left.
Defending champions Pohang Steelers of Korea remained second in the group after a hard-fought 1-0 home win over China's Shandong Luneng with Noh Byung-Joon's seventh minute goal enough to secure three points.
Al Ahli bounce back
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal looked destined for their third successive victory as they led 1-0 against United Arab Emirates champions Al Ahli going into time added on in their Group D clash in Riyadh. However, Abdelmotaleb Ibrahim levelled in the 91st minute to give the visitors their first point of the campaign and leave Al Hilal coach and former Belgium star Eric Gerets with his head in his hands.
The group's other match saw Qatar's Al Sadd thrash Iranians Mes Kerman 4-1, with a double by Leandro in four minutes just after half-time the centrepiece of a victory that leaves them just a point adrift of the Saudi side.
Al Hilal's fellow Saudis and last year's finalists Al Ittihad finally got their first win of the competition as they won 2-0 away at Emirati side Al Wahda, who are bottom of Group B and yet to garner a point. It was a welcome boost for Al Ittihad, the two-time winners, who had previously disappointed with one defeat and one draw.
Luiz Felipe Scolari and his Uzbek champions Bunyodkor suffered their first defeat of the campaign after two victories as they went down 3-0 away to Iranian side Zobahan, who by virtue of their win leapfrogged their opponents into top spot in Group B.