There were plenty of goals and drama as the AFC Champions League (ACL) 2017 witnessed the round two fixtures in Group C, D, E & F.
Huge scorelines and late winners were the order of the day as Urawa Red Diamonds continued to score goals aplenty while Hulk starred for Shanghai SIPG. Here is a recap of what transpired in Asia's primary club competition on Tuesday.
FC Bunyodkor 2-3 Al Ain [Cemirtan 10’ Khamdamov 43’ - Abdulrahman 8’, 89’ Caio 15’]
Uzbekistan’s FC Bunyodkor went down fighting at home to UAE’s Al Ain 2-3 after a thrilling finish to a Group E encounter in Tashkent.
Reigning AFC player of the year Omar Abdulrahman fired the away team into the lead in the eighth minute when he curled in a stunning free-kick. But Vadim Cemirtan restored parity for the hosts two minutes later when he headed home a rebound after Khamdamov’s shot came off the upright.
Al Ain’s Brazilian winger Caio then put them back in front after a cross fell right to his feet inside the penalty area. But the 20-year-old Dostonbek Khamdamov pulled Bunyodkor level just before half-time with a sweet volley from close range following a cross from the left wing.
Bunyodkor’s efforts to snap their 16-game winless streak were dealt a huge blow in the 72nd minute when defender Akramjon Komilov was sent off for a second bookable offense. Al Ain, desperate for a win, would then be given a penalty when Caio was brought down by Shukurov. Up stepped Omar Abdulrahman who made no mistake with the spot-kick to send his side to the second spot in Group C.
Zob Ahan 1-2 Al Ahli (KSA) [Rajabzadeh 45+3’ - Asiri 29’ Al Soma 86’]
Iranian side Zob Ahan hopes of gaining a point against Al Ahli were snatched away by a late free-kick from Omar Al Soma which helped Al Ahli record their second consecutive win in Group C.
The visitors took the lead just before the hour mark when Abdulfattah Asiri pounced on a loose ball inside the box. But things took a turn for the worse for them when defender Motaz Hawsawi was sent off for bringing down Jerry Bengston inside the box. The resulting penalty was coolly dispatched off by Mehdi Rajabzadeh to bring Zob Ahan level.
Though the visitors played the majority of the second half with 10 men, Omar Al Soma’s late piledriver of a free-kick secured them back-to-back wins and helped them move to the top of Group C.
Al Wahda 2-3 Persepolis [Matar 58’ Valdivia 64’ - Amiri 4’ Taremi 81’, 90’]
Iranian outfit Persepolis prevailed over UAE’s Al Wahda in what was a thrilling five-goal affair at Abu Dhabi to go joint top in Group D.
Al Wahda, who were beaten by Al Rayyan in the previous game, were desperate to open their points tally but were shocked by an early goal from Vahid Amiri. Star striker Mehdi Taremi got to the byline and flashed a low cross which was turned in at the near post by a sliding Vahid Amiri.
The visitors held on to their lead in the first half. But the home team started the second half with renewed vigour and got a deserved equaliser in the 58th minute when second half substitute Ismaeil Matar lifted a finish over the goalkeeper after collecting a pass inside the area. Three minutes later, they were in the lead. Sebastian Tagliabue laid a ball into the path of Chilean Jorge Valdivia who side-footed a shot past the goalkeeper from inside the area.
But the game was to witness a twist in the tale. Mehdi Taremi rose highest to nod in a chipped cross in the 81st minute to pull Persepolis level. The Iranian striker would then react well to poke a volley home in the 90th minute after running on to Soroush Rafiei’s innovative free-kick.
The result consigns Al Wahda to their second successive loss in Group D.
Al Hilal 2-1 Al Rayyan [Eduardo 3’ Al-Shalhoub 90+6’ - Tabata 79’]
In another dramatic AFC Champions League encounter in Group D, Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal prevailed 2-1 over Qatar’s Al Rayyan after an injury time penalty was converted.
Al Hilal took an early lead in the game when Brazilian striker Carlos Eduardo clinically finished off a ball from Mohammed Al Burayk down the right wing. Though Carlos Eduardo and Al Rayyan’s Rodrigo Tabata both hit the woodwork, the score would remain so until the 79th minute when Al Rayyan hit back.
Rodrigo Tabata pulled Michael Laudrup’s side level when he headed in Sergio Garcia’s cross and it looked to have given them a share of the spoils but for some late drama. Omar Khrbin’s goalbound effort was handled by Rayyan defender Mosaab Kheder in the sixth minute of injury time and the spot-kick by Mohammad Al-Shalhoub was enough to send Al Hilal joint top of Group D along with Persepolis.
Ulsan Hyundai 6-0 Brisbane Roar [In-sung 10’, 68’ Orsic 13’, 34’ Kovacec 55’ Jong-Ho 90+3’]
In what turned out to be a night to forget for Australian teams, Ulsan Hyundai pummelled Brisbane Roar 6-0 in a group E encounter at the Ulsan Munsu football stadium to get their first points of the campaign while their opponents are rooted to the bottom the group.
Kim In-sung scored the first goal of the game in the 10th minute when his low drive from the edge of the area took a slight deflection and fooled the goalkeeper. The 2012 winners did not have to wait long to score their second goal. Three minutes later, Mislav Orsic embarked on a fine run on a counter and lashed a finish from just inside the penalty box. He bagged his brace in the 34th minute when a clearance fell straight to him and he sent a low strike home from the a similar spot from where he scored his first.
Ivan Kovacec then scored a fourth past the hapless Australian team, 10 minutes into the second half, when he saw his effort from a cutback by Petratos take a deflection and loop over the goalkeeper. Soon after, Kim In-sung helped himself to another goal when he took a long pass forward in his stride and evaded a defender to send a low effort into the far corner.
An uttery abject performance from the Brisbane-based side was capped off by Lee Jong-Ho who found no resistance as he leaped high to finish off a cross.
Muangthong United 2-1 Kashima Antlers [Bunmathan 12’ Xisco 90+5’ - Pedro Junior 47’]
Thailand’s Muangthong United claimed their first-ever AFC Champions League victory in dramatic fashion after downing the much-fancied Kashima Antlers 2-1 at Bangkok.
An upset seemed to be on the cards when the home side’s set-piece specialist Theerathon Bunmathan curled in a beautiful left-footer from 20 yards in the 12th minute. The rest of the first half played out in such a manner too, with the Thai side missing a host of chances to build on their lead.
But Kashima Antlers came out firing in the second half and equalised within two minutes of the restart. Leandro’s cross was turned home by Pedro Junior on the second attempt as the Muangthong defence were caught sleeping.
The Japanese side should have sealed the comeback in the 84th minute when they were awarded a penalty. But Yuma Suzuki’s effort went wide, much to the relief of the home side. Muangthong, spurred by that incident, sealed a dramatic victory deep into the injury time when former Newcastle United striker Xisco was on hand to steer a parry from the goalkeeper into the net and send his side to the top of Group E.
Shanghai SIPG 5-1 Western Sydney Wanderers [Hulk 3’ Oscar 17’ Shi Ke 25’ Elkeson 27’ Wu Lei 75’ - Nichols 20’]
Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG turned on the charm as they ran out comfortable 5-1 victors over Western Sydney Wanderers in a Group F encounter in Shanghai.
In a frenetic first half, it was the hosts who surged into the lead in the third minute when Hulk rose highest to head home a cross from Zhang Wei. The Brazilian, who had a hand in three more goals, slipped in former Chelsea man Oscar who fired an accurate shot beyond the goalkeeper to double Shanghai SIPG’s lead. Though Mitch Nichols immediately pulled one back for the away side, any hopes of a comeback was firmly extinguished in the next seven minutes.
First, Hulk’s free-kick in the 25th minute was parried by Tyson in Sydney goal but Shi Ke reacted first to turn the rebound in. Two minutes later, Elkeson directed Hulk’s mishit volley into the net to effectively seal the game.
Wu Lei got on the end of Fu Han’s ball over the top to score a fifth and add the necessary gloss to a win that sees Andre-Villas Boas’ side maintain their perfect start to the campaign.
Urawa Red Diamonds 5-2 FC Seoul [Muto 9’ Lee 11’ Sekine 15’ Ugajin 21’ Komai 45’ - Chu-Young 14’ Damjanovic 90+2’]
Urawa Red Diamonds continued in their freescoring form, putting five goals past FC Seoul at home to join Shanghai SIPG atop Group F with six points each.
In the last round, they scored four goals past Western Sydney Wanderers in the second half but this time around, the fireworks were pulled out much earlier. The first goal was scored in the ninth minute when Yuki Muto headed in Koroki’s cross from the left wing which was aided by some slack goalkeeping. Tadanari Lee doubled the advantage two minutes later when Sekine found him inside the box and the striker lifted a finish past the goalkeeper.
The barrage of goals did not stop there. Former Arsenal striker Park Chu-Young scored a fantastic free-kick in the 14th minute to give the away side some hope but they were extinguished in ruthless fashion immediately. Muto found Sekine inside the box and his shot was allowed to trickle into the net in the 15th minute. Six minutes later, Tomoya Ugajin turned home a blocked effort from Koroki to utterly demoralise the away side.
Just on the stroke of half-time, Yoshiaki Komai scored a fifth after neat build up play that set him in space inside the Seoul area. Dejan Damjanovic got a late consolation for the visitors who see Urawa Red Diamonds and Shanghai SIPG take control of the group.