Traditional powerhouses were in mixed moods following their contrasting performances in the Round of 16 first leg matches of the AFC Champions League 2016. Former champions Urawa Red Diamonds triumphed 1-0 at home but both former winners Al Ain and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors were held in their respective matches. Meanwhile, El Jaish and Al-Nasr put one foot in the quarter-finals following their respective big wins and FC Tokyo are on the verge of making history after prevailing 2-1 at home against Shanghai SIPG. Join FIFA.com as we review the action across Asia.
Shandong Luneng 1-1 Sydney FC
Sydney FC continued their hopeful run after playing out a 1-1 draw at Shandong Luneng. The precious away point provides Graham Arnold's visitors with a slight edge heading into the return leg in a week's time, with a goalless draw enough to send them through. Having progressed to the knockout stage for the first time after winning a group, which featured a titanic trio in holders Guangzhou Evergrande, Urawa Red Diamonds and Pohang Steelers, the A-League side are expected to hold on to their surprise packages tag.
As shown during the group phase, Sydney FC demonstrated their trademark resilience as they held off the host's relentless attacking moves. Vedran Janjetovic denied Walter Montillo from the spot early on, before David Carney headed the visitors in front inside 15 minutes. After the break, Diego Tardelli equalised on 56 minutes to re-ignite hopes for Shandong. However, the impressive Janjetovic and the woodwork combined to frustrate the hosts' attackers as Sydney FC left with a draw.
Lekhwiya 0-4 El Jaish
Pitted against each other in an all-Qatari affair, this pair should be no strangers to each other having met in 17 games in all competitions in the last four years. And it was the home side that entered the reunion with a sort of mental edge with two more victories, including outplaying El Jaish in a 2-1 win in last Friday's Emir Cup semi-final encounter to storm into the final for the first time.
With Lekhwiya expected to build on their head-to-head record, however, the visitors pulled off what proved to be the biggest stunner of the matchday. Brazilian striker Romarinho opened the scoring for the visitors before Moroccan Abderrazak Hamdallah and Tunisian Mohammad Mathnany struck either side of half-time to put the game beyond doubt. With four minutes left, Romarinho sealed the triumph with his second, which moved El Jaish on the verge of progression.
The other attractions
Substitute Salem Saleh scored in each half as Al-Nasr thrashed Teraktor-Sazi 4-1 at home. Ahmed Al Yassi put the home side in front on the quarter-hour mark before Saleh doubled the lead before the break. Augusto Cesar may have halved the deficit for the visitors but Saleh struck again to restore their two-goal lead and Mahmoud Khamis put a seal to the rout with a spectacular long-range effort.
Leonardo cancelled out Besart Berisha's early opener for hosts Melbourne Victory as Jeonbuk Motors shared spoils with the A-League side in a 1-1 stalemate. However, it is the K-League champions that can count on their away draw and goal going into the return leg at home.
The same can be said of Iranian side Zob-Ahan, who came from behind to draw hosts Al Ain 1-1. Teenage striker Mohammadreza Abbasi scored the equaliser 16 minutes from time to cancel out Douglas' early opener as the visitors earned a hard-fought point.
Uzbekistan international goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov excelled throughout as Lokomotiv Tashkent held hosts Al Hilal to a goalless draw. In the process, Nesterov repeatedly denied the dominant Saudis as the visitors returned home with a point—a result that maintained their undefeated run during this campaign.
Kota Mizunuma scored a brace as FC Tokyo edged Shanghai SIPG 2-1 at home. The midfielder broke the deadlock through a free-kick before the break, and despite Wu Lei drawing the scoreline level shortly after the restart, the dynamic attacker sealed the victory with a wonderful strike.
Tomoya Ugajin netted the only goal inside 14 minutes as Urawa Red Diamonds saw off FC Seoul 1-0 at home. The K-League visitors threw everything forward in the second half but the much-expected equaliser didn't come due to their profligacy in front of goal.
With four goals to his name, Moroccan international Abderazak Hamdallah is El Jaish's top scorer in this AFC Champions League campaign. Despite moving from Guangzhou R&F to join the Qatari side only last year, the 25-year-old wasted no time in establishing his ace-striker place with his new club. He finished the Qatar Stars League as top-marksman with 22 goals in his debut season as El Jaish sealed the runners-up place and thus the qualification for next year's AFC Champions League. His goalscoring form will be key for El Jaish to go further in this campaign.
2 – Zob-Ahan and Lokomotiv Tashkent are the only two sides to remain undefeated in this campaign following away draws in their respective matches.
What they said
“I think Tokyo were a little bit better than we were in the first half. Then in the second half we came back very well and played good football. We could have done better, but this competition (Round of 16) goes on for another 90 minutes. So we’ll see what’s happening next Tuesday. Everything can happen and we’ll see," Shanghai SIPG coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Round of 16 first leg results
17 & 18 May
Al Hilal 0-0 Lokomotiv Tashkent
Al-Nasr 4-1 Teraktor-Sazi
Al Ain 1-1 Zob-Ahan
Lekhwiya 0-4 El Jaish
Melbourne Victory 1-1 Jeonbuk Motors
FC Tokyo 2-1 Shanghai SIPG
Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0 FC Seoul
Shandong Luneng 1-1 Sydney FC