Debutants shine as goals and upsets mark preliminary stage
Debutants advance to AFC Champions League Play-off Round
Philippines champions Ceres Negros upset Australia's Brisbane Roar
Thailand's Chiangrai United and Vietnam’s FLC Thanh Hoa also advance
Three debutant clubs enjoyed nights to remember on Tuesday as the 2018 AFC Champions League gathered momentum with the completion of the second Preliminary Round.
A total of 21 goals lit up the four single-tie matches, but undoubtedly the result that will live longest in the memory was the victory by Philippines champions Ceres Negros over two-time Australian A-League winners Brisbane Roar.
The Filipinos came from a goal down to take a second half lead before running out deserved 3-2 victors in Brisbane, with Omid Nazari scoring what proved to be the winner 15 minutes from full time.
Just seven days earlier, Ceres Negros, who are still in pre-season, struggled to overcome Myanmar’s Shan United on penalties in their competition bow.
But the Roar had no answer despite the presence of four former Australian internationals and veteran Italian striker Massimo Maccarone.
Ceres's next match will be against China’s Tianjin Quanjian on 30 January in the third and final round of preliminary matches.
Thai first-timers Chiangrai United defeated Indonesia’s Bali United 2-1 in a contest that burst into life during extra time.
Akarawin Sawasdee put Chiangrai ahead four minutes into extra time, and Pathompol Charoenrattanapirom soon doubled the home team's lead for the winner at the Singha Stadium.
Vietnam’s FLC Thanh Hoa survived a late Eastern SC fightback to win 4-2 at the Mongkok Stadium.
Hoang Dinh Tung was the hero with a second-half hat-trick as the V.League runners-up scored a comeback victory over the well-known Hong Kong outfit.
Marian Mihail’s side now face a meeting against traditional Korea Republic heavyweights Suwon Samsung Bluewings.
Champions League old-stagers Muangthong United comfortably sealed their progression after registering a comprehensive 5-2 win over Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim.
The Thai side raced to a confident 3-0 lead early on before adding two after the break. Johor Darul Ta'zim salvaged some pride late on as Jorge Diaz netted twice in injury time.
The group stage commences on 12 February with the eventual winner to feature in the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018.