Al Jazira through, quintet on the verge
Al Jazira became the first and only team to book their place in the Round of 16 of the 2012 AFC Champions League after they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Esteghlal at home in Wednesday's Matchday 4. In doing so the league and cup winners of United Arab Emirates ensured they are the country's first club to progress to the knockout stage since Al Wahda five years ago.
Meanwhile, a series of favourites closed on early qualification with Al Ittihad, Persepolis, Adelaide United, FC Tokyo and Ulsan Hyundai moving within a point of progression. At the other end of the standings, pointless Al Arabi and Nasaf became the first teams to go out while a host of strugglers, including 2008 champions Gamba Osaka are facing early elimination. Join FIFA.com as we detail the major sensations and upsets across the continent.
Jeonbuk Motors 3-2 Buriram United
Having brought Buriram United's surprise run to a halt with a 2-0 win in Bangkok, Group H's Jeonbuk Motors continued their revival by edging out the Thai champions 3-2 at home. The visitors got the rematch off to a good start when their Cameroonian striker Franck Ohandza saw his cross-cum-shot go in off the post on 20 minutes. Their lead, however, lasted only five minutes when the prolific Lee Dong-Gook drew the hosts level with a curling shot, before going on to put Jeonbuk ahead with a thunderbolt volley two minutes later. Ohandza pulled his side level before the hour-mark, but Park Won-Jae scored the match-winner ten minutes from time. The victory moves the 2006 winners to second narrowly ahead of Buriram on goal difference.
Enjoying a solitary-point lead at the section summit are Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande, who returned to the top with a 3-1 home defeat of Kashiwa Reysol. Brazilian forward Muriqui proved the hosts' hero as he earned a penalty on the half-hour from which Dario Conca converted to open the scoring, before striking twice in the second half to steer Guangzhou to their second triumph.
Seongnam Ilhwa 5-0 Central Coast Mariners
Having played out three opening draws, including sharing a 1-1 stalemate with Central Coast Mariners a fortnight ago, 2010 winners Seongnam Ilhwa of Group G inflicted a 5-0 scoreline upon the Australian visitors. Lee Chang-Hoon and Everton Santos each struck before the break to give the home side a 2-0 first-half lead, before Kim Sung-Hwan volleyed home from an acute angle on 69 minutes to put the game beyond doubt. Still there was time for Santos to shine, with the Brazilian scoring from the penalty spot before setting up Vladimir Jovancic for the final goal.
The resounding victory moved the Koreans to the section top leading Nagoya Grampus on goal difference. The Japanese side spurned a series of chances and were forced to settle for a goalless draw against Tianjin Teda.
In Group A, Arash Borhani put Esteghlal ahead midway through the first half, but Brazilian forward Ricardo Oliveira equalised shortly after hour-mark for Al Jazira to seal a point and the home side's progression. In the section's other match Rodrigo Tabata's sublimely-taken free-kick saw Al Rayyan record a 1-0 win at Nasaf to edge Esteghlal out of second place.
Group B favourites Al Ittihad dropped their first points after being held to a goalless draw at Bani Yas. Despite the disappointment, the two-time winners remain three points clear of second-placed Pakhtakor, who recorded their second back-to-back defeat of Al Arabi with Temurkhuja Abdukholiqov netting the only goal.
Al Ahli registered a 3-1 comeback win over Al Nasr at home to move top of the pile in Group C. With seven points from four games, the Jeddah giants lead Sepahan on goal difference after the Iranian heavyweights suffered a 1-0 defeat at Lekhwiya.
Group D's Persepolis were denied early qualification after being held to a 1-1 draw at home by ten-man Al Gharafa. The hosts side looked destined for progression when Ali Karimi broke the deadlock six minutes from time, only to see Lawrence Quaye's stoppage-time equaliser delay celebrations. In the other game of the pool, Moroccan striker Youssef El Arabi struck in each half as Al Hilal came from behind to see off Al Shabab 2-1.
Group E's Adelaide avenged their recent 1-0 defeat at Pohang Steelers by defeating the 2009 winners by an identical scoreline in dramatic fashion, with a last-minute header from Bruce Djite secured the home team three precious points. The fortuitous win, coupled with Bunyodkor's 3-2 home defeat of Gamba Osaka, leaves the Australians with a three-point cushion at the top.
Group F debutants FC Tokyo maintained their undefeated run by putting three unanswered goals past visiting Beijing Guoan. In the section's other game, Ulsan Hyundai won 2-1 at Brisbane Roar to keep pace with Tokyo on eight points at the top, with the result all but ending the hopes of the Australian champions.
With his recent goals helping Persepolis to four points from their two meetings with Al Gharafa, 33-year-old Ali Karimi has proven he is not yet past his prime.
8 – Exactly one-quarter of the 32 contenders have remained undefeated after four rounds.
What they said
"It's an uplifting performance and it all comes down to the work you put in during the week and all through what has been a tough time. And that is where the resilience comes from; fighting through some huge hurdles this year and now we are seeing the benefit of it" Adelaide assistant coach Luciano Trani
AFC Champions League Matchday 4 results
Group A: Al Jazira 1-1 Esteghlal, Nasaf 0-1 Al Rayyan
Group B: Al Arabi 0-1 Pakhtakor, Bani Yas 0-0 Al Ittihad
Group C: Al Ahli 3-1 Al Nasr, Lekhwiya 1-0 Sepahan
Group D: Persepolis 1-1 Al Gharafa, Al Hilal 2-1 Al Shabab
Group E: Bunyodkor 3-2 Gamba Osaka, Adelaide United 1-0 Pohang Steelers
Group F: Brisbane Roar 1-2 Ulsan Hyundai, FC Tokyo 3-0 Beijing Guoan
Group G: Seongnam Ilhwa 5-0 Central Coast Mariners, Nagoya Grampus 0-0 Tianjin Teda
Group H: Guangzhou Evergrande 3-1 Kashiwa Reysol, Jeonbuk Motors 3-2 Buriram United