Goals, superstars and silverware
A goal-fest in Japan saw leaders Vegalta Sendai return to form, while there was star power on the sidelines in both China PR and Korea Republic as Marcello Lippi and Park Ji-Sung hogged many of the headlines. Further afield, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli made up for league disappointment with a cup triumph, while there was silverware also claimed in Malaysia and Vanuatu. Join FIFA.com for a whistle-stop tour of Asia and Oceania, which also looks at the latest from Uzbekistan.
Japan’s J.League: Goals reign down
Goalscoring proved the theme over the weekend in Japan with a remarkable tally of 34 goals recorded across the nine matches. Among the big winners were leaders Vegalta Sendai, who enjoyed a return to the winner's list following some recent indifferent form. Two goals in each half saw Vegalta stretch their lead to five points with a stunning 4-0 win against 2010 winners, and last year’s runner-up, Nagoya Grampus. Ryota Moriwaki scored a decider during injury time to give Sanfrecce Hiroshima a dramatic 3-2 win over Vissel Kobe, propelling them into second on goal difference. However, the weekend’s goalscoring kings were Jubilo Iwata who overpowered Albirex Niigata 6-1, and seven-time champions Kashima Antlers, who did even better, as seven different players scored in a 7-0 rout of Consadole Sapporo.
Big game: Shimizu S-Pulse lost their grip on second as Yuki Abe scored the only goal of the game just before the interval to lift a rejuvenated Urawa Red Diamonds into fifth.
Headline-grabber: Kazuma Watanabe completed a sensational 15-minute hat-trick, including a winner with two minutes remaining, as the 25-year-old helped FC Tokyo to a stunning 3-2 comeback win against Sagan Tosu
China PR's Super League: Ideal start for Lippi
Only three days after his appointment with big-spending Guangzhou Evergrande, former FIFA World Cup™-winning coach Marcello Lippi got his Chinese odyssey off to a positive start with a 1-0 home win over bottom side Qingdao Jonoon, a result which maintained the leaders' four-point cushion at the summit. Among the chasing pack, Beijing Guoan overcame hosts Changchun Yatai by an identical scoreline to tip Guangzhou R&F out of second spot, while Jiangsu Sainty remain fourth after sharing the spoils with Dalian Aerbin in a 1-1 draw.
Big game: R&F missed the chance to close the gap on city rivals Evergrande as they conceded three unanswered goals at Guizhou Renhe. Chinese international Qu Bo struck twice as the hosts recorded a resounding win to move fifth.
Headline-grabber: While Lippi enjoyed a triumphant debut, there were touching scenes as local fans paid tribute to predecessor Lee Jang-Soo, who took Guangzhou to their first league title last year. The supporters gave the Korean coach a fitting farewell by chanting his name, while also brandishing his portrait and placards of support.
Korea Republic’s K-League: Park and Suwon steal the headlines
Suwon Bluewings move back to the top of the K-League after they came from a goal down to beat Ulsan Hyundai 2-1 thanks to a late winner from Brazilian Everton. FC Seoul had held down top spot for 24 hours after beating Gwangju 2-1, before Suwon regained their one-point advantage. Jeju United sit in third, four points from the summit, after they were beaten 1-0 away to Chunnam Dragons, with Son Seol-Min scoring the only goal.
Big game: Jeonbuk Motors bounced back from their surprise AFC Champions League elimination with an impressive 3-0 win at Sangju Sangmu Phoenix. Kim Jung-Woo led the way, scoring in each half, as Jeonbuk won their second successive match to move into fourth.
Headline grabber: Manchester United midfielder and Korea Republic icon Park Ji-Sung grabbed all the attention when he attended the match between Suwon and Ulsan. His presence at a K-League match for the first time in nine years proved a boost to his hometown club as Suwon won to move top.
Al Ahli retained their Saudi Arabia Champions Cup title with a one-sided 4-1 win against a ten-man Al Nasr. Abdulrahim Jezawi scored a second-half double with Oman international Amad Al Hosni and Kamil Al Mousa also on the scoresheet as Ahli bounced back from a second-place finish in the league.
Malaysia giants Kelantan have etched their name onto the Malaysian Cup for the first time after winning Saturday's final against second division Sime Darby. In-form Lebanese striker Mohamad Ghaddar scored the only goal as the Red Warriors enjoyed a boost heading into this week’s opening AFC Cup knockout stage action.
In Uzbekistan, Nasaf put their failed AFC Champions League behind them to move top with a 1-1 home draw against Nawbahor Namangan. Nasaf took full advantage of a weekend off for Pakhtakor and Bunyodkor. A 3-2 home triumph against Metallurg Bekabad moved Olmaliq into the top four, while at the other end of the table Bukhara remain two points adrift despite holding Lokomotiv Tashkent to a 1-1 draw.
Amicale have been crowned Vanuatu kings for the third successive year with the Port Vila club defeating Tafea in the final. Over 8,000 spectators in the football-mad Pacific Island nation turned out to see Solomon Islands import Moffat Deramoa grab the winner with five minutes remaining, as the 2011 OFC O-League finalists also booked a ticket to next year’s continental competition.