Leaders stumble as chasers close in
The past weekend has to be proved a turbulent one in Asia, with a series of pace-setters dropping points as the title-race intensified. Both J-League leaders Kashiwa Reysol and Tajikistan front-runners Istiqlol Dushanbe crashed to defeats, while the K-League’s Jeonbuk Motors shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw with holders FC Seoul. China’s Guangzhou Yiyao, meanwhile, strengthened their grip of the table with another win. Join FIFA.com as we review some major leagues across Asia.
Korea Republic's K-League: No change in top two
Nine-man Jeonbuk Motors were held to a 2-2 draw at home by reigning champions FC Seoul, while Pohang Steelers lost 2-1 at Suwon Bluewings. While the Motors and the Steelers are still sitting comfortably at the top, with 35 and 30 points respectively, powerhouses Seoul and Suwon are slowly recovering from their worst possible starts to the season. Meanwhile, no fewer than eight clubs are packed together in mid-table with only two points separating fifth-placed Suwon and Gyeongnam on the 12th.
The big game: Daejeon Citizen appeared to breeze past Chunnam Dragons as Han Jae-Woong struck twice to give them a three-goal lead inside 23 minutes. But the visitors fought back with Wesley netting a brace and Lee Wan scoring the equaliser eight minutes into the second half. Wagner then put the hosts ahead with his sixth goal of the season, but there was still time for a late drama as Lee Byung-Yoon made it 4-4 four minutes into added time.
The headline-grabber: Kim Eung-Jung became the seventh player to have scored 100 goals in the K-League on Saturday, as the Jeju United captain scored in each half to lead his side to a 4-2 victory at struggling Gangwon.
Japan's J-League: Surprise packages lost ground
The past weekend didn't belong to the surprise duo Kashiwa and Vegalta Sendai. The former were stunned 5-0 at Cerezo Osaka to stay just a point clear at the summit, while a 1-1 draw against reigning champions Nagoya Grampus saw the latter concede their second place to Yokohama F Marinos, who saw off Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 at home.
The big game: Postponed from mid-March due to the devastating earthquake, the gigantic clash between Urawa Reds and Gamba Osaka represented the top class of not only J-League but also Asia, with them having an AFC Champions League title to their names. Takashi Usami put Gamba ahead after 56 minutes but Genki Haraguchi struck the equaliser for Urawa as the two sides drew 1-1, a result which both will ultimately feel was fair.
The headline-grabber: Cerezo's crushing of Kashiwa marked only their third win this season but they certainly achieved it in spectacular fashion. Takashi Inui and Rodrigo Pimpao struck inside 25 minutes to give them a 2-0 lead before half-time. By this time however Kashiwa had already been reduced to ten men following playmaker Leandro Domingues' dismissal on the half-hour mark, making recovery an even weightier challenge. As such the hosts continued their dominance into the second-half with Martinez, Ryuji and Shu Kurata all on target as they pulled off a surprise triumph.
China's Super League: Guangzhou consolidate dominance
Leaders Guangzhou Evergrande continued to run riot midway through this season, outmuscling hosts Hangzhou Greentown 3-1 to go seven clear at the summit. Beijing Guoan, meanwhile, lost further ground on second place after picking up their consecutive fourth 1-1 draw at Shaanxi Chanba. In contrast, holders Shandong Luneng climbed to third with a 2-0 home win over bottom side Shenzhen Ruby.
The big game: It was no surprise that Dalian Shide lost again, having not won in their previous four. However, it was the way they lost the game that raised the eyebrows, with the eight-time champions conceding four unanswered goals at Jiangsu Sainty to slip to fourth from the bottom. Cristian Danalache struck in each half while Australian hotshot Bruce Djite and Tan Si were also on target as the hosts produced the biggest win of Round Thirteen.
The headline-grabber: Boasting arguably the C-League's most high-profile line-up, Guangzhou's chances at winning their first national championship look great. In order to maintain their amazing momentum, however, the big-spending club pulled put their chequebook again to sign former Fluminense striker Dario Conca. He will now the formidable striking partnership of Brazilian duo of Cleo and Muriqui.
In Uzbekistan, Pakhtakor missed on the chance to close upon leaders Bunyodkor as they went down 2-1 at Andizhan. The result came as a double blow for them as it not only widens their gap with the reigning champions to six points, but also leaves them falling into third place behind Nasaf Qarsi, who recorded a narrow one-goal victory at Samarkand-Dinamo.
In the Maldives, leaders VB Sports picked up a 1-0 win at bottom side Vyansa to stay five points clear of runners-up Victory, who dropped points after being held to a 1-1 draw at third-placed New Radiant. Meanwhile, a 2-0 victory against visitors Eagles saw Maziya pull level with New Radiant on 24 points, trailing courtesy of largely inferior goal difference.
In Tajikistan, leaders Istiqlol Dushanbe could afford a solitary-goal loss at third-placed Regar-TadAZ Tursunzade and still maintain their place at the summit, with two point lead over Ravshan Kulob with a game in hand. At the opposite end of the standings, Guardia Dushanbe remain rooted to the bottom despite picking their second win this season beating Vakhsh Qurghonteppa 1-0.