Asia’s premier club competition saw 16 teams across four groups start their 2017 campaign to be crowned the best club in the continent on Tuesday.
A total of 16 goals were scored while the biggest shock was the capitulation of A-League Western Sydney Wanderers against Urawa Red Diamonds. Here are the results from Tuesday:
Al Ain (UAE) 1-1 Zob Ahan (IRA) [Ismail Ahmed 76’ - Bengtson 57’]
Last year’s AFC Champions League runners-up Al Ain club of United Arab Emirates were left having to conjure up a late equaliser to salvage a point from their opening Group C encounter against Zob Ahan at the Hazza Bin Zayed stadium in Al Ain.
Though Al Ain dominating the tie, they could not force a breakthrough and the Iranian side capitalised on their profligacy. Zob Ahan surged into the lead in the 57th minute when Jerry Bengtson slid in to turn in a cross from close range.
The stung Emirati side managed to find a deserved equaliser 14 minutes from time when Ismail Ahmed met Bandar Mohamed’s corner and powered a header past the Zob Ahan custodian.
Al Ahli (KSA) 2-0 FC Bunyodkor (UZB) [Al Soma 13’ Muwashar 53’]
Saudi Arabian champions Al Ahli made a winning start to their Group C campaign by easing past Uzbekistan’s FC Bunyodkor 2-0 at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium.
Al Ahli came racing off the blocks at home and notched the lead as early as in the 13th minute when their Syrian striker Omar Al Somah capitalised on a mix-up between the Bunyodkor defenders to score the opener. Bunyodkor failed to make a game of the fixture and a second goal early on in the second half killed off their hopes.
Salman Muwashar doubled Al Ahli’s advantage when he ghosted into the penalty box to head home Fetfatzidis’cross from the right wing at the back post in the 53rd minute. The result means Al Ahli have taken an early lead in Group C.
Al Rayyan (QAT) 2-1 Al Wahda (UAE) [Viera 13’ Caceres 60’ - Chang-Woo 35’]
Qatari champions Al Rayyan, coached by Danish legend Michael Laudrup, started their AFC Champions League campaign on the right note after quelling the challenge of UAE-based Al Wahda 2-1 in Doha.
It was Gonzalo Viera, Al Rayyan’s Uruguayan defender, who gave them the lead in the 13th minute when he headed in after an effort at goal was parried up by a defender on the goalline but were pegged back in the first half itself by Al Wahda. Their South Korean fullback Rim Chang-woo volleyed home from close range, after a corner.
But Laudrup’s side would regain their lead just past the hour mark from another setpiece. A partial clearance was kept alive by a Rayyan player and it fell to Victor Caceres who headed it into the top corner to secure all three points for the home team.
Persepolis FC (IRA) 1-1 Al Hilal SC (KSA) [Mohsen Mosalman 68’ - Carlos Eduardo 82’]
In a battle between the Iranian and Saudi Arabian league runners-up, a victor could not be determined as Persepolis and Al Hilal shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Muscat.
The Iranian side, who were the underdogs, took the lead against the run of play in the 68th minute when Mohsin Mosalman’s low effort from just outside the box after latching on to a partial clearance crept inside the post.
Al Hilal, who had seen defender Al Hafith squander a good chance, fought back and got a dramatic equaliser eight minutes from time, courtesy former Porto and Nice striker Carlos Eduardo. The forward rose highest at the near post to glance a well-taken corner in and notch a point for the Saudi Arabian side.
Brisbane Roar (AUS) 0-0 Muangthong United (THA)
A-League side Brisbane Roar, who made the headlines when they eliminated Carlos Tevez’s Shanghai Shenhua in the playoff stages to gain entry to the group stages, could not repeat their heroics against Thai champions Muangthong United in Brisbane.
In what turned out to be a game utterly devoid of quality in the final third, it was Brisbane forward Nicholas D’Agostino who went the closest to taking the lead when he saw a first-half effort come off the post.
The goalless stalemate extended Brisbane Roar’s winless run at home in this competition to seven games while the Thai side notched only their second ever point in the tournament.
Kashima Antlers (JAP) 2-0 Ulsan Hyundai (KOR) [Kanazaki 64’, Suzuki 82’ ]
2016 Club World Cup runners-up Kashima Antlers got off to a brilliant start to their AFC Champions League campaign by taking control of Group E with a 2-0 win over South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai in Ibaraki.
The Japanese side had two second-half goals from star midfielder Mu Kanazaki and Suzuki to thank for. It was the visitors who had the best of chances in the opening half, with Kashima custodian Kwoun Sun-tae tipping Jeong Jae-yong’s header on to the post before Han Seung-gyu struck the woodwork just after the restart.
But Kanazaki showed his class by heading home Ryota Nagaki’s corner in the 64th minute before striker Suzuki found the back of the net from a tight angle in the 82nd minute to seal the result.
Western Sydney Wanderers (AUS) 0-4 Urawa Red Diamonds (JAP) [Koroki 56’, Lee 58’, Makino 68’, Rafael Silva 86’]
J-League runners-up Urawa Red Diamonds came up with a stunning second-half barrage of goals to register a resounding 4-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers in Sydney to go top of Group F.
The Japanese side had the upper hand throughout the first half but were unable to find a breakthrough but the floodgates opened for them in the second half in emphatic fashion. First, deadly marksman Shinzo Koroki ran onto Tadanari Lee’s clever through ball and found the net in the 56th minute. Two minutes later, Koroki chipped a pass to Lee and the latter volleyed home with ease.
In the 68th minute, defender Tomoaki Makino poked a volley home from a corner before Rafael da Silva scored a deflected effort late on to complete a dismal night for the Australian side.
FC Seoul (KOR) 0-1 Shanghai SIPG (CHI) [Hulk 53’]
Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG, coached by Andre-Villas Boas, made a winning start to their Group F campaign despite being a man down for most of the second half by edging FC Seoul 1-0 at the Seoul World Cup stadium.
After a barren first half, the Chinese team took the lead after explosive Brazilian Hulk thundered in a typically powerful effort from 25 yards in the 53rd minute. But, there were dramatic scenes just six minutes later when Shanghai centre-back He Guan was dismissed for bringing down Damjanovic in the area. However, Shanghai custodian Yan Junling saved the Montenegrin striker’s spot kick.
Shanghai SIPG held out till the end of the game, despite being put under heavy pressure by the South Koreans who will count themselves unlucky not to have salvaged a point.