Silverware polished as Roar bellow
It was a busy weekend at both ends of the season across Asia and Oceania as cup winners were crowned in Japan and Malaysia, while in Korea Republic the play-off line-up was finalised. In Australia, champions Brisbane Roar notched up another record, amid their remarkable ongoing unbeaten run, while there was disappointment for Qatar’s Al Sadd ahead of next weekend’s AFC Champions League final. Finally, FIFA.com looks at Oceania where New Zealand’s heavyweight pair began their respective continental campaigns in emphatic fashion.
Australia’s A-League: Champions Roar again
Brisbane Roar’s perfect start to the season continued in spectacular fashion with a 7-1 victory over Adelaide United, to extend their unbeaten streak to 32 matches. The Roar went behind for the first time this season when Dario Vidosic scored an early goal, but the visitors’ joy lasted just 16 minutes as the champions hit back with a remarkable five unanswered goals before half-time. Perth Glory remain second but fell three points behind the Roar as Central Coast Mariners secured a 2-1 comeback win.
Big game: Under pressure Melbourne Victory collected their first win, and indeed their first goals of the new season, with a 2-1 triumph against Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand. Against the run of play, Victory scored through Archie Thompson just before the break, and then Carlos Hernandez doubled the lead from the spot midway through the second half, following a penalty which saw Phoenix’s Ben Sigmund receive his marching orders.
Headline-grabber: Albania striker Besart Berisha profited most from Brisbane’s stunning attacking display. The former Arminia Bielefeld man scored four, including an A-League record six-minute hat-trick.
Korea Republic's K-League: Seoul edge third
With leaders Jeonbuk Motors and runners-up Pohang Steelers having claimed top two places last week, FC Seoul nailed down third with a 3-0 win at Gyeongnam that took them above arch-rivals Suwon Bluewings by virtue of goals scored. The Bluewings bounced back from their AFC Champions League semi-final defeat last Wednesday to defeat Jeju United 2-0 at home. Elsewhere, Busan I'Park also beat bottom club Gangwon 2-0 to leapfrog into fifth place, while Ulsan Horangi were held to a goalless draw at Daegu but snatched the sixth and final ticket to the play-offs. In three weeks' time, Seoul will take on Ulsan and Suwon will entertain Busan, with the winners from the two ties to battle for the right to play against Pohang in the semi-final later next month.
Big game: Little seemed to be at stake in the final league match between Seongnam and Pohang, both of whom had already known their fate after the regular season. But the showdown, between the 2009 and 2010 AFC Champions League winners, was settled by the brilliance of a rookie. Ko Mu-Yeol struck twice and set up another as the Steelers beat the Pegasus 3-1.
Headline-grabber: Ha Dae-Sung scored his maiden career hat-trick as Seoul overpowered ten-man Gyeongnam. In fact, that treble now accounts for half of his season tally.
New Zealand’s representatives underlined their OFC O-League ambitions by recording emphatic victories in the opening round. Auckland City and Waitakere United, who have shared four of the five Oceania titles to date, comprehensively beat Solomon Islands’ Koloale 4-1 and Tahiti’s Tefana 10-0 respectively. Roy Krishna scored five and Ryan de Vries helped himself to a hat-trick as Waitakere scored a competition record scoreline. In Honiara, late goals helped blow out the winning margin for Auckland as Manel Exposito and David Mulligan both hit doubles. Last season’s runners-up Amicale were set for victory in Port Vila until 2010 winners Hekari United equalised deep into injury time through Kema Jack.
In Japan, Kashima Antlers collected the first major silverware of the Japanese season with a 1-0 victory over relegation-haunted Urawa Red Diamonds in the J.League Cup final. With both sides reduced to ten men during a goalless 90 minutes, Yuya Osako was the hero finally breaking the deadlock midway through extra time to seal a sixth major trophy in five years for Kashima.
Negeri Sembilan lifted their second Malaysia Cup title in three years after overcoming Terengganu 2-1 in a tempestuous encounter at the Shah Alam stadium. Terengganu snatched the lead midway into the second half against the run of play through Ashaari Samsuddin and seemed set to claim the trophy. However, goals in the final ten minutes from S. Kunalan and Hairuddin Omar, the latter a stunning scissors kick, sealed the triumph for the Deers.
In Qatar, Al Sadd suffered a 2-1 defeat to Al Jaish ahead of Saturday's AFC Champions League final meeting with Jeonbuk Motors but, despite the scoreline, the 12-time Qatari champions still have a hold on second ahead of Al Rayyan and Al Khor on goal difference. Enjoying a four-point cushion at the top of the standings are defending champions Lekhwiya who remain undefeated after seeing off Qatar SC with three unanswered goals.
Finally, to China PR, where Saturday's penultimate round provided heart-break for Chengdu Blades and Shenzhen, with both doomed to relegation after losing to Henan Construction and Shandong Luneng by the same 3-2 scoreline. With the top two places already sealed by champions Guangzhou Yiyao and Beijing Guoan, Liaoning Whowin are in the driving seat in the hunt for third. Their 1-0 home win over Changchun Yatai means they now need just a point at Tianjin Teda in the concluding round to secure qualification for next year's AFC Champions League.