Records abound as history is made
The past weekend saw the majority of leaders manage to maintain their places at the summit as the title race intensified across Asia. However, it was a series of individual efforts that raised the most eyebrows, with history made and records set.
In the K-League, Pohang Steelers' 39-year-old Kim Gi-Dong became the oldest scorer in the league’s history as he sealed a 7-0 victory over Daejeon, while Kim Seung-Young netted his first J.League goal in Gamba Osaka’s 3-2 defeat of Omiya Ardija.
Liaoning Whowin's Zhao Junzhe, for his part, scored the only goal against Shaanxi Chanba, which leaves him level with former Dalian Shide striker Wang Tao as the scorer of the most penalties in the C-League.
China's Super League: Favourites benefit from double-header
In a hectic week packed with two matches, runaway leaders Guangzhou Yiyao made the best of the double-headers with victories at Chengdu Blades and Dalian Shide respectively, results which maintained their seven-point cushion at the top of the standings. Similarly impressive were runners-up Beijing Guoan, who brought an end to their four-match winless streak with a comfortable 3-0 win over Shanghai Shenhua in the midweek outing, before dispatching Jiangsu Sainty 2-1 on Sunday, both at home. Earning even more applause, however, were Liaoning, who emerged 1-0 and 2-0 winners against heavyweights Tianjin Teda and Shaanxi Chanba respectively to keep their third place intact.
The big game: Boasting a 9-1 record home win over Shanghai back in 1997, Beijing can count on the mental edge each time they entertain their rivals. Their recent re-match came as no exception, with the capital side recording their eleventh victory in a total of 35 meetings. Joel Griffiths put the hosts ahead after ten minutes before he forced Wang Dalei to make a goalkeeping error, allowing Lei Tenglong to double the lead. With the clock ticking towards the hour mark, Wang Xiaolong sealed the win by converting a penalty he created himself.
The headline-grabber: Liaoning have been running riot in only their second season since their return to top-flight competition, with former international midfielder Zhao Junzhe a driving force behind their re-emergence. The former China PR captain was on target four times - all through penalties - as his side racked up 9 wins from 16 matches. His latest goal came in Sunday's victory over Shaanxi, which saw him level the league record as the player who has converted the most spot-kicks, with 14 goals.
Japan's J.League: Big boys leave it late
Nervy finishes marked this week's J.League action, with pace-setters Kashiwa Reysol securing a 1-0 home win over Vegalta Sendai courtesy of a Masakatsu Sawa goal late into stoppage time, while Naoshi Nakamura scored six minutes from time to steer Nagoya Grampus past Vissel Kobe by the same scoreline. Gamba, meanwhile, had to battle from behind to defeat Omiya Ardija, a result which moved them into top four, a point shy of third-placed Kawasaki Frontale, who saw off Avispa Fukuoka.
The big game: Former Arsenal midfielder Junichi Inamoto and Kengo Nakamura struck either side of half-time to give Kawasaki a 2-0 lead over bottom side Avispa, before Brazilian Juninho put the contest beyond doubt after 66 minutes. With a comfortable win beckoning for the hosts, the visitors hit back hard, with Hideya Okamoto twice on target in the space of six minutes to put the game on a knife-edge. But his efforts came to no avail as the hosts held onto their narrow lead.
The headline-grabber: Kim Seung-Young's 77th-minute goal for Gamba came as a double reward. He broke his J.League duck, while the winner earned his side a valuable three points.
Korea Republic’s K-League: Goals galore, late dramas aplenty
The 17th round of the K-League saw no fewer than 32 goals scored in eight matches - a new record for a single round. FC Seoul, Busan I’Park and Gyeongnam all claimed 3-2 victories by virtue of last-gasp winners against Sangju Sangmu, Daegu and Jeju United respectively, while Pohang Steelers defeated Daejeon Citizen 7-0 at home. Leaders Jeonbuk Motors were held to a goalless draw at Ulsan Horangi, who are to take on Busan in the League Cup final on Wednesday.
The big game: Gyeongnam came from two goals down to defeat Jeju United 3-2, the visitors’ second-half goals coming from rookies Yun Il-Lok, Yoon Bitgaram and Kim In-Han. For their part, Jeju failed to keep up the momentum after taking a two-goal lead through Park Hyun-Bem and Santos by the hour mark.
The headline-grabber: Pohang amassed seven unanswered goals against a subdued Daejeon side at the Steelyard, as Mota struck twice before Kim Gi-Dong reached a landmark by scoring the seventh goal from the spot to become the oldest scorer in the history of the K-League.
The finishing-line is in sight in Singapore, with Home United maintaining their two-point lead with a 3-2 home triumph over eight-time champions Singapore Armed Forces. Boosted by the spirited win, the leaders are aiming to win their third league title with three games left but they must remain wary of closest rivals Tampines Rovers, who kept up the pressure on them with a solitary-goal win over Etoile. Also worth mentioning are tenth-placed Young Lions who, despite featuring the national U-23 players, put four unanswered goals past bottom side Woodlands Wellington.
In Vietnam, the title race picked up pace with SHB. Da Nang prevailing 3-1 over SLNA in their top-of-the-table contest, to reduce the gap to the leaders to four points. Hot on their heels are T&T Ha Noi, who remain a point adrift after a 2-0 win at DT. Long An.
In Pakistan, KRL got off to a flying start with two opening victories over Baloch Nushki and PEL as the country's new Premier League season kicked off during the past week. It was, however, a forgettable beginning for defending champions Wapda, who lost the curtain-raiser 1-0 at Afghan FC before sharing the spoils with Baloch Nushki in a goalless draw to languish in 12th place.