Mixed fortunes for Asian elite
Asia's traditional heavyweights endured contrasting experiences on matchday 2 of the AFC Champions League with the likes of Al Ittihad and Persepolis cruising to one-sided victories, while former winners Gamba Osaka, Pohang Steelers and Jeonbuk Motors were dealt severe blows.
At the other end of the spectrum, Thai champions Buriram United continued their astonishing form with a 2-1 win over big-spending Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande. Meanwhile, debutants FC Tokyo held their place at the summit of their group despite being held 2-2 at home by Ulsan Hyundai. Join FIFA.com as we detail all the action from across the sprawling Asian continent.
Pohang Steelers 0-2 Bunyodkor
Lutfulla Turaev and Kamoliddin Murzoev struck in each half as Group E's Bunyodkor overcame Pohang Steelers 2-0 in the Steelyard to put their campaign back on track. Pohang had opened their campaign with a stunning away win at Gamba Osaka, while the Uzbeks crashed to defeat against outsiders Adelaide United. Yet, it was the visitors that took the lead on the half-hour when Turaev unleashed a powerful half-volley past Shin Hwa-Yong. The visitors secured their opening win through Murzoev's effort 13 minutes from time.
In the section's other game, A-League strugglers Adelaide shrugged off their miserable domestic form to pick up their second straight victory, downing J.League powerhouses Gamba Osaka 2-0 courtesy of a brace from defender Daniel Mullen. The result, which was in stark contrast to Gamba’s 5-0 aggregate win over the same opponent in the 2008 final, moved the Reds three points clear of Pohang and Bunyodkor, with Gamba languishing at the bottom still searching for their first point.
Kashiwa Reysol 5-1 Jeonbuk Motors
Having suffered a 5-1 humiliation at home to debutants Guangzhou Evergrande in the opener, Jeonbuk Motors were dealt another blow losing to first-timers Kashiwa Reysol by an identical margin. The defeat already has the campaign of last year’s finalists and 2006 champions teetering on the edge. Both teams entered the second outing seeking to bounce back from surprise defeats, but it was the Japanese hosts that raced to a 3-0 lead courtesy of a quickfire burst just before the break. Daisuke Nasu headed the hosts in front on 40 minutes, before two quick goals from Leandro Domingues virtually put the game beyond Jeonbuk’s reach.
Huang Bowen may have pulled one back for the visitors shortly after the interval but their hopes of a comeback proved short-lived with Junya Tanaka and Akimi Barada striking late to complete a resounding triumph for the J.League champions. In the group's other match, Thai champions Buriram United continued their promising run with a 2-1 victory at Guangzhou, thanks to Frank Acheampong's winner 11 minutes from time. The result, coupled with their 3-2 opening defeat of Kashiwa, moved the unfancied Thais to the Group H summit with a three-point cushion ahead of Guangzhou and Kashiwa.
The other attractions
UAE’s Al Jazira continued their triumphant form in Group A, dispatching Qatar’s Al Rayyan 3-2 at home to maintain their place at the section summit two points clear of Esteghlal, who were held to a goalless draw in Tehran by Nasaf. Having sealed their opening 4-2 win at Nasaf, Al Jazira's Brazilian marksman Ricardo Oliveira was again on target when he opened the scoring inside eight minutes to set the hosts on the road to a second successive victory.
Striking sensation Naif Hazazi netted a brace as Group B favourites Al Ittihad maintained their unblemished record with a 3-1 defeat at pointless Al Arabi. The result cemented their place at the top of their pool, two points clear of Bani Yas, who remained unbeaten with a 1-1 draw at Pakhtakor.
In Group C, Victor Oliveira struck a penalty deep into injury time to cancel out Bruno Correa's first-half opener, as Al Ahli stole a point against frontrunners Sepahan at home. Despite the draw, the Iranian visitors remain top of the section a point clear of Al Nasr, who recorded their opening win with a 2-1 defeat of Lekhwiya courtesy of a brace from Ivorian forward Amara Niane.
Dublin-born Libyan striker Eamon Zayed completed the tournament's first hat-trick as Group D's Persepolis produced the matchday's biggest scoreline by overpowering Al Shabab 6-1 at home to move top. In the section's other game, Moroccan midfielder Otman El Assas rescued a point for hosts Al Gharafa with an injury-time penalty as his side drew with Al Hilal in a six goal thriller.
It was honours even in Group F, as all four teams earned a share of spoils. In the section's top-of-the-standing clash, visiting Ulsan Hyundai twice came from behind to draw 2-2 against Tokyo FC leaving the pair level on four points at the top. In the other fixture, Brisbane Roar midfielder Mitch Nichols headed home midway through the first half to cancel out Piao Cheng's early opener for hosts Beijing Guoan as the two sides picked up their first points.
Group G has proven to be the most tightly contested with all four contenders left level on two points with two draws each. Both games ended in a 1-1 tie, with Patrick Zwaanswijk heading home the equaliser against Nagoya Grampus to salvage a point for hosts Central Coast Mariners, while Tianjin Teda defender Lucian Goian's second-half header was enough to deny Seongnam Ilhwa a home win.
Despite missing a penalty, Kashiwa's Brazilian midfielder Leandro Domingues stood out with two goals and countless surging runs against Jeonbuk. Having finished last season as the J.League's third top-scorer with 15 goals, the 28-year-old's form could prove key if the Sun Kings are to qualify from their group.
8 - Half of the matchday’s 16 matches ended in stalemate.
What they said
"We pushed Al Ittihad very hard tonight but they had better quality in the end. Of course, I would like to play the same style as Barcelona but I don’t have Messi, Iniesta or Xavi here" Pierre Lechantre, Al Arabi coach
AFC Champions League Matchday 2 results
Group A: Esteghlal 0-0 Nasaf, Al Jazira 3-2 Al Rayyan
Group B: Pakhtakor 1-1 Bani Yas, Al Arabi 1-3 Al Ittihad
Group C: Al Nasr 2-1 Lekhwiya, Al Ahli 1-1 Sepahan
Group D: Persepolis 6-1 Al Shabab, Al Gharafa 3-3 Al Hilal
Group E: Adelaide United 2-0 Gamba Osaka, Pohang Steelers 0-2 Bunyodkor
Group F: FC Tokyo 2-2 Ulsan Hyundai, Beijing Guoan 1-1 Brisbane Roar
Group G: Seongnam Ilhwa 1-1 Tianjin Teda, Central Coast Mariners 1-1 Nagoya Grampus
Group H: Kashiwa 5-1 Jeonbuk Motors, Guangzhou Evergrande 1-2 Buriram United