There were goals aplenty on Tuesday as the final composition of the AFC Champions League was determined with eight play-off matches.
There were mostly clear-cut winners on the east half of the continent, while conversely four tight contests were a feature on the other side of the draw.
The headline fixture was perhaps in Australia where 2008 runners-up Adelaide United hosted ambitious Chinese outfit Shandong Luneng. In the end, the Chinese Super League side prevailed in an epic action-packed encounter that remained in the balance until the final minute.
The visitors, coached by former Brazil coach Mano Menezes, moved confidently to a 2-0 half-time advantage thanks to goals from Yang Xu and Brazil international Diego Tardelli. However, Adelaide, defending a six-year unbeaten home run in continental competition, eventually found momentum after the break.
There were countless unrewarded chances for the home side, while Shandong always looked likely to kill the game off on the counter-attack.
Adelaide’s Marcelo Carrusca missed a crucial spot-kick, before Sergio Cirio eventually pulled a goal back leaving a ten-man Shandong desperately holding on for fulltime.
“Oh my heart, oh my heart,’’ quipped Menezes after his side survived the eleventh-hour Adelaide onslaught.
Shandong will now feature in a group alongside 2015 FIFA Club World Cup participants Sanfrecce Hiroshima, FC Seoul and Thailand’s Buriram United.
There was far less drama elsewhere as Pohang Steelers and Shanghai SIPG each prevailed 3-0 over Vietnam's Hanoi T&T and Thailand’s Muangthong United respectively.
China PR star forward Wu Lei secured the headlines in Shanghai by scoring a brace and providing an assist for former Guangzhou Evergrande idol Dario Conca.
Shim Dongwoon provided the star turn for three-time Asian kings Pohang Steelers as he grabbed all three goals in their victory over Hanoi T&T. Pohang will now take their place in an all-star group alongside defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande, 2007 winners Urawa Reds and Sydney FC.
There were plenty of goalscoring headline-makers later on Tuesday as four matches in the west half of the continent took centre-stage.
Hamza Sanhaji was both the hero and villain as former champions Al Sadd were eliminated in Abu Dhabi. Sanhaji managed to score twice, but he missed the decisive penalty as United Arab Emirates’ Al Jazira advanced 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw.
Eldor Shomurodov scored both goals to help Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor claim a 2-0 win over UAE’s Al Shabab.
Naft Tehran’s dreams of surpassing last year’s run to the quarter-finals came to an early end, following their elimination by Qatar’s El Jaish with a 2-0 scoreline.
Perhaps the most dramatic game was in Jeddah where Jordan’s Al Wehdat momentarily looked set for a famous giant-killing at the expense of Al Ittihad. The Jordanians took an early lead, but the two-time Asian champions were in front by half-time and managed to hold on for a 2-1 victory.
“I expected a tough match, but didn’t believe it would be as difficult," said Al Ittihad coach Victor Piturca.
The AFC Champions League will commence on 23 February with the competition winner to represent Asia in the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup.