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The relative excitement of two scoreless draws was overshadowed by two big upsets as away teams made their mark on the second night of Asian competition


CNTL. COAST MARINERS
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SUWON BLUEWINGS

FEB 26, 7:00PM
GOSFORD STADIUM
A-LEAGUERS' PK WOES CONTINUE

Central Coast Mariners were forced to settle for a scoreless draw against Suwon Bluewings after they saw a late penalty kick saved by keeper Jung Sung-ryong just two weeks after Brisbane Roar were eliminated from the competition after having three straight penalties blocked.

Visiting Suwon had the advantage from the outset and set the pace for much of the first half, but though both teams showed strength at the midfield neither were able to break through up top. Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan was comfortable for most of the match, rarely finding himself challenged.

The crucial play came late in the match when the referee pointed to the spot following Suwon defender Kwak Kwak-Seun's obvious handball. Nick Montgomery lined up to take the kick, but Jung dove right and parried away the effort. The result was disappointing for Mariners, who have won just once in three ACL campaigns.


SANFRECCE HIROSHIMA
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BUNYODKOR
FEB 27, 7:00PM
HIROSHIMA BIG ARCH
J-HOLDERS FALL TO ORGANIZED UZBEKS

With several starters either missing or rested, hosts Sanfrecce Hiroshima never seemed to get into gear as they were handly beaten by a determined Bunyodkor side. Fresh off their Super Cup win, the hosts gave themselves few chances in the first half and often found themselves struggling to fend off crosses deftly handled by the taller Bunyodkor players.

Last year's ACL semi-finalists earned themselves the lead with seconds remaining in the first half when Oleksandr Pyshur deftly headed Jovlon Ibrokhimov's cross past Shunsaku Nishikawa. Defender Kazuhiko Chiba was the guilty party on the play, and it would not be his last moment of infamy on the night.

Sanfrecce came out looking revitalized in the second half and mounted a comeback led by captain Hisato Sato. But despite several chances, the 2012 league MVP was unable to penetrate the stout Bunyodkor defence. With the clock counting down, it was again Chiba who blundered in allowing Fozil Musaev to slip past and eventually beat Nishikawa with a low shot to the right corner of the net.

POHANG STEELERS
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BEIJING GUOAN
FEB 27, 7:30PM
POHANG STEELYARD
BEIJING BREAKS K-LEAGUE CURSE

Three-time ACL winners Pohang Steelers began their attempt at a fourth title with a scoreless draw against Beijing Guoan at the Pohang Steelyard. The visitors broke their string of ten losses in a row against K-League sides in the ACL through the  efforts of goalkeeper Yang Zhi, whose two second-half saves were crucial in preserving a clean sheet.

The match started evenly and both sides were cautious heading into the second half, played in front of over 6,000 Pohang fans and a significantly smaller number of Beijing supporters. The teams traded chances in the second half, with Yang and counterpart Shin Hwa-Yong both forced into action on numerous occasions.

Beijing's best chance of the night came just after the hour mark, when Ecuadorian midfielder Joffre Guerron struck the crossbar with a powerful shot from outside the penalty area. Pohang, meanwhile, rued several missed opportunities including Kim Won-Il's close shot and Hwang Jin-Sung's header.

GUIZHOU RENHE
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1
KASHIWA REYSOL

FEB 27, 7:30PM
GUIYANG OLYMPIC SPORTS CENTER
CLEO SCORES WINNER IN CHINA RETURN

The second match of the tournament between Chinese and Japanese clubs came with plenty of fireworks as Kashiwa Reysol grinded out a 1-0 win over Guizhou Renhe after winning just one of four road games in last year's tournament.

The match was a physical affair that reflected the animosity between the two countries, but despite Renhe having plenty of opportunity to score the opener it was former Guangzhou Evergrande man Cleo whose second-effort header saw the back of the net in first half additional time.

The Emperor's Cup champions were forced to defend for much of the second half, and their physical efforts provoked visible responses from the home side. Bosnian striker Zlatan Muslimovic in particular appeared frustrated by his close marking, but after hitting the crossbar multiple times in the second half it was clear that the night would not be a celebratory one for Guizhou.

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