Jostling continues despite key contests
It proved to be an intriguing weekend in several locations across Asia, with changes at the top once again in Japan, where a quartet of teams continue to vie for supremacy. China's runaway leaders Guangzhou Yiyao again slipped up, while the opposite was the case in Korea Republic, where Jeonbuk Motors stretched their lead by overcoming second-placed Pohang Steelers. There were potentially decisive top-of-the-table meetings in Uzbekistan and Myanmar, while champions Muang Thong United are finally on the move in Thailand.
Japan’s J.League: Change again at the top
There were goals aplenty across the J.League on the weekend, yet it was a single Naoki Sugai strike that secured three points for midtable Vegalta Sendai in their match-up with leaders Nagoya Grampus. The win knocked the defending champions from the summit with Gamba Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol taking full advantage to move top, although the former have the advantage by virtue of a superior goal difference.
Big game: Yokohama Marinos, like Nagoya, are one point off the pace, although it required a Yuji Ono goal in the dying minutes to secure all three points against a Jubilo Iwata side that came into the game on the back of a 6-1 win over one-time leaders Kashiwa 6-1.
Headline-grabber: Brazilian striker Rafinha scored a treble - bringing him to seven goals in six games since he joined at the end of last month - to lead Gamba Osaka to a 6-3 win over Kawasaki Frontale. City rivals Cerezo also had a hat-tick hero as Ryuji Bando single-handedly helped his side to a 3-3 draw against Shimizu S-Pulse.
Korea Republic’s K-League: Jeonbuk see off challenger to stretch lead
Current leaders Jeonbuk Motors beat Pohang Steelers 3-1 in a top-of-the-table clash to extend their lead to seven points. Defending champions FC Seoul claimed their sixth straight win, a 3-0 victory over Jeju United, who dropped to sixth place after the shock defeat at home. Suwon Bluewings beat troubled Sangju Sangmu by the same scoreline at home to move up to fifth, while in-form Busan I'Park were held to a 1-1 draw at Chunnam Dragons to remain fourth.
Big game: In a rematch of last season's championship final first leg in Seogwipo, hosts Jeju welcomed Seoul seeking to leapfrog the reigning champions into third. However, the visitors took the lead through Dejan Damjanovic just before half-time, and while Ha Dae-Sung extended the advantage midway through the second half, it was the Montenegrin marksman who finished off the game with his second goal of the match and 17th of the season.
Headline-grabber: Jeonbuk striker Lee Dong-Gook fired a hat-trick against his hometown club Pohang to take his tally to 112 goals, just four short of the milestone set by Woo Sung-Yong, the K-League's all-time top scorer.
China PR's Super League: Runaway leaders Guangzhou again stumble
It proved a surprising weekend in China, with a series of big clubs dropping points. Holders Shandong Luneng slipped to fourth with a 2-1 home defeat against Hangzhou Greentown, while Beijing Guoan suffered just their second loss, falling 1-0 at Qingdao Jonoon. Runaway leaders Guangzhou Yiyao were held to a 1-1 draw at Henan Construction but still enjoy a ten-point cushion over Beijing.
Big game: With just one win from their last nine outings, struggling Hangzhou claimed a much-needed three points with a comeback victory at Shandong. Forward Xie Zhiyu cancelled out Hang Peng's opener, before Du Wei slotted home the winner 17 minutes from time.
Headline-grabber: Defender Cao Yang netted the only goal as hosts Tianjin Teda ended their nine-year winless drought against Shanghai Shenhua. The victory moved the former to seventh while the latter, now with five defeats on the trot, were left languishing in 11th.
Bunyodkor have taken a massive step towards a fourth consecutive Uzbekistan league title with a 2-1 victory against Pakhtakor in the Tashkent derby, with Milos Trifunovic scoring the winner midway through the second half. Bunyodkor now have a nine-point lead over their rivals just past the halfway mark of the campaign.
In Thailand, Muang Thong United ascended to second with a 3-1 victory at TOT-CAT as the reigning champions continue to climb the ladder after their slow start to the season. Chonburi slipped to third following a surprise 1-0 loss at TTM Phichit, while Buriram PEA have a six-point lead at the summit despite dropping points with a goalless draw against Pattaya United.
The competition lead has changed hands in Myanmar, with Zeyar Shwe Myay inching clear at the top ahead of Yangon United on goal difference, as the former scored a 3-1 home victory against their rivals. Ayeyawady United are third, two points off the pace, thanks to a 5-2 victory at Rakhapura United.