Silverware polished as favourites endure
Seongnam Chunma were crowned the latest Korea Republic cup champions, while the weekend league action left Jeonbuk Motors on the verge of the title. Silverware was also handed out in Uzbekistan as Bunyodkor steamrolled to their fourth successive crown. In Australia, the unbeaten run of reigning champions Brisbane Roar continued unabated, while the A-League’s big-name recruits suffered another unprofitable weekend. Meanwhile, the headline names in United Arab Emirates and Thailand, Diego Maradona and Robbie Fowler, had reason to smile.
FIFA.com’s weekly review of Asian club action also takes in the latest from Japan, China PR and Saudi Arabia
Australia's A-League: Roar intensifies as stars falter
Champions Brisbane Roar stretched their unbeaten run to 30 matches with a confident 2-0 win at Sydney FC, for whom Brett Emerton made his highly anticipated home debut. Australia’s most-capped outfield player, however, could not stem the tide and the visitors triumphed thanks to a goal in each half from former Bundesliga duo Besart Berisha and Thomas Broich. The only other undefeated team with a perfect record after two rounds is Perth Glory who beat Melbourne Heart 2-1 for a rare win on the road.
Big game: A capacity crowd was on hand to see Harry Kewell’s first A-League visit to Adelaide and it was the home fans that went home happy. United’s Sergio van Dijk struck just after half-time to leave Melbourne Victory still searching for their first goal of the season.
Headline-grabber: A typically impressive double from new signing Shane Smeltz secured Perth Glory three points at Melbourne Heart. A brilliant winner from outside the penalty area, followed on from a first-half header which was the New Zealand international’s 50th A-League strike, leaving him just two behind the competition’s all-time top goalscorer Archie Thompson.
Korea Republic's K-League: Jeonbuk profit as Pohang slip
While Seongnam Chunma lifted the Korean FA Cup on Saturday to claim a ticket to next season's AFC Champions League, league leaders Jeonbuk Motors were also guaranteed their place in the continental championship with two games remaining. More importantly, Jeonbuk are now within touching distance of the title, and they now need just a single point from their remaining two matches for their second crown, as Pohang Steelers lost 2-1 at Ulsan Horangi A further six points behind Pohang are defending champions FC Seoul, who shared a pulsating 1-1 draw with Incheon United, and losing cup finalists Suwon Bluewings.
Big game: Ulsan took on local rivals Pohang at the Munsu Stadium looking to move into the top six for the first time this season. The Tigers took the lead through ex-Pohang midfielder Go Seul-Ki in the first half, before Derek Asamoah restored parity with eight minutes remaining. However, Ko Chang-Hyun fired home a dramatic injury-time winner to put an end to the Steelers' five-game winning streak.
Headline-grabber: Having achieved the rare feat of winning the AFC Champions League as both a player and coach last year, Seongnam boss Shin Tae-Yong added to his 1999 Korean FA Cup medal by leading his team to domestic cup glory over the weekend.
Bunyodkor clinched their fourth successive Uzbekistan title with three matches to spare. A single Kamoliddim Murzoev goal was enough for Bunyodkor to win against fourth-placed Neftchi. Their Tashkent rivals, Pakhtakor, are in danger of being edged out of second by Nasaf after Alexander Shadrin's first-half double gave Navbakhor Namangan a 2-0 victory over the club which had won six straight titles prior to Bunyodkor’s period of dominance.
In Japan, Kashiwa Reysol returned to the top as the newly promoted team put themselves in prime position for a remarkable triumph with just five rounds remaining. Jorge Wagner's first-half penalty proved crucial as Reysol edged Montedio Yamagata 1-0 to move two points clear of Gamba Osaka, who capitulated 4-1 against Nagoya Grampus. The win saw the defending champions reinvigorate their title defence and they are now just three points off the pace thanks to doubles from Naoshi Nakamura and Jungo Fujimoto.
In Saudi Arabia, Al Ittihad were denied a confidence boost ahead of their midweek AFC Champions League semi-final, when they were forced to settle for a draw against leaders Al Shabab. The point was not enough to maintain Shabab’s grip at the summit as Al Ittifaq moved top of a congested table on goal difference thanks to a 2-0 victory over Al Ansar.
The United Arab Emirates season kicked-off in winning fashion for Diego Maradona as his Al Wasl side defeated Sharjah 3-0. However it was Juan Manuel Olivera that proved the star turn with the Uruguayan hitting all three goals. Wasl, however, were marginally outshone by Al Jazira as last season’s champions cruised past Al Ahli 4-0 with another Olivera, this time Brazilian forward Ricardo, figuring prominently with a double.
In China PR, with the title already sealed by leaders Guangzhou Yiyao, the focus has switched to the race for a top-three berth and with it, qualification for next year's AFC Champions League. Beijing Guoan cemented their hold on second with a 4-1 home victory over Changchun Yatai, who conceded third place to Liaoning Whowin after their 2-0 win against Henan Construction. With three rounds remaining Beijing enjoy a six-point buffer over Liaoning, with Changchun a further two points adrift.
In Thailand, former England striker Robbie Fowler finally scored his first goal for Muang Thong United as the reigning champions overpowered Chiang Rai United 4-1. The victory, in Fowler’s first home match as coach, closed the gap on leaders Buriram PEA to six points.