Big names shine as upsets unfold
Established stars took the past weekend by storm across Asia, with the likes of Seydou Keita, Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Dzenan Radoncic on target as their respective sides earned spirited triumphs in China and Korea Republic. However, there were surprises elsewhere, with Iranian holders Sepahan stunned by Saipa while struggling Gamba Osaka sealed un unlikely 5-0 defeat of Nagoya Grampus. Join FIFA.com as we detail the latest developments across the continent.
Iran's Pro League: Shock defeats for favourites
A minute of silence was observed prior to the 1-1 draw between third-placed Saba Battery and Fajr-Sepasi to show respect to the victims of the earthquake in East Azerbaijan on 11 August. With the Iranian province still devastated in the wake of the natural disaster, there were a series of shockwaves sent across the weekend in the local competition, with holders Sepahan, Tehran giants Persepolis and Zob Ahan all suffering defeats while the likes of Malavan and Teraktor-Sazi maintained their undefeated runs.
Big match: Sepahan were dealt their first loss this season with a 2-0 defeat to Saipa at home. Sajjad Shahbazzadeh opened the scoring for the visitors on 28 minutes before Milad Gharibi struck in stoppage-time as they stunned a ten-man Sepehan. The defeat saw the AFC Champions League quarter-finalists concede their top place to Malavan, who earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Esteghlal.
Headline-grabber: 2010 AFC Champions League runners-up Zob Ahan had a possible worst start to the season, losing all five games to date including the latest 1-0 loss at Gahar Zagros which rooted them firmly to the bottom.
China's Super League: Stars on target as heavyweights stunned
The past weekend belonged to the imported stars in China, who put in brilliant displays as their respective sides earned crucial points. Most notably, Marcello Lippi's Guangzhou Evergrande extended their lead to five points courtesy of a 2-1 win at Changchun Yatai with Dario Conca and Cleo both on target. Former Barcelona man Seydou Keita, meanwhile, broke his Chinese duck as his Dalian Aerbin defeated third-placed Guizhou Renhe by the identical scoreline to move into ninth. In-form Yakubu Aiyegbeni opened the scoring with a sublime lob to set his Guangzhou R&F onto the road to a 4-2 victory over Shandong Luneng while runners-up Jiangsu Sainty's Cristian Danalache cemented his place at the top of the league scoring chart with a penalty despite their 1-1 draw by Shanghai Shenxin.
Big game: Bruno Meneghel completed a brace, including netting the match-winner, as Qingdao Jonoon prevailed 3-1 over Henan Construction in the strugglers' meeting. The result moves Qingdao out of the relegation zone with Henan rooted to the bottom.
Headline-grabber: Former Everton striker Yakubu proved his salt with R&F since joining the club in mid-July, scoring five times in six games which have seen him edge the likes of Keita and Didier Drogba as the most prolific imported stars.
Korea Republic’s K-League: Splits take shape as Jeonbuk return to top
With two matchdays left before the league is split into two groups of eight teams, seven clubs have virtually sealed their places in the top eight with four still vying for the remaining spot. Jeonbuk Motors twice came from behind to earn a dramatic 3-3 draw with Jeju United and return to pole position on goal difference with FC Seoul, who suffered a 2-0 reverse at home against archrivals Suwon Bluewings. Fourth-placed Ulsan Horangi also fell at home losing 1-0 to Incheon United, who moved into eighth thanks to the only goal of the game from former Tigers forward Seol Ki-Hyeon. Hot on their heels are Daegu who lost 4-2 at Pohang Steelers but are still level on 36 points with Incheon.
Big game: Jeonbuk overcame an early blow from Kang Soo-Il with goals from Seo Sang-Min and Eninho in the first half, but visitors Jeju drew level through Jair and then seemed to take all three points with Kang’s last-gasp strike. However, there was still time for the Motors’ new signing Leonardo to restore parity deep into added time.
Headline-grabber: Having netted twice in their previous 3-1 defeat of Sangju Sangmu Phoenix, Dzenan Radoncic went on to complete his second consecutive brace as Suwon overcame FC Seoul in the capital derby.
In Japan, a 2-0 triumph at Albirex Niigata saw Sanfrecce Hiroshima open a four-point cushion at the summit ahead of second-placed Vegalta Sendai, who were held to a goalless draw by defending champions Kashiwa Reysol. Stealing the show, though, were traditional powerhouses Gamba Osaka who put five unanswered goals past Nagoya Grampus Eight to move beyond the relegation zone.
In Uzbekistan, two quick-fire early goals from Anvar Gafurov and Victor Karpenko earned leaders Bunyodkor a 2-1 narrow win over six-placed Nefchi. The result, allied with runners-up Nasaf's unexpected solitary-goal loss at tenth-placed Metallurg Bekabad, saw Bunyodkor set up a four-point gap at the top. Tashkent giants Pakhtakor, meanwhile, moved level on 31 points with Nasaf following a 1-0 win at Nawbahor Namangan with Kakha Makharadze scoring the only goal.
In Thailand, the much-anticipated titanic clash between leaders Muang Thong United and holders Buriram PEA ended in a 1-1 stalemate, with Mario Gjurovski striking on 49 minutes to cancel out Frank Acheampong's early opener to earn the former a point at home. Enjoying a massive ten-point cushion ahead of second-placed Chonburi who won 2-0 at TTM Phichit, Muang Thong are strongly favoured to win their third league title with 11 rounds to go.