AFC Champions League 2018: Matchday One Review: East Zone

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Asia's premier club competition saw some interesting matches in the East Zone as the group stage got underway...

 The AFC Champions League 2018 got off to a brilliant start in the East Zone. Here is a look at what the games produced this week:

GROUP E:


Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 3-2 Kashiwa Reysol (Dong-Gook 55', 84' Jin-Su 75' - Lopes 10' Esaka 27') 


Jeonbuk Hyundai v Kashiwa Reysol

South Korean outfit Jeonbuk Hyundai triumphed 3-2 over Japan's Kashiwa Reysol in their return to the AFC Champions League in a game which turned out to be a tale of two halves. 

It was the away side who raced to a two-goal lead inside the first half-an-hour. Kashiwa's Ramon Lopes gave them the lead in the 10th minute when he latched on to a long ball and lifted a neat finish over the onrushing goalkeeper. In the 27th minute, Lopes saw a shot parried by goalkeeper Hong Jeong-nam into the path of Ataru Esaka, who tapped into an empty net. 

However, after the break, the home side lifted their game and hit back to devastating effect. Lee Dong-gook headed in from Lee Jae-sung’s corner in the 55th minute to give them a lifeline. With 15 minutes remaining, the scored were levelled as Kim Shin-wook’s shot fell to Kim Jin-su who volleyed home an acrobatic effort from close-range. 

The drama was not done though. In the 84th minute, Dong-gook scored his 34th goal in the tournament with a curler that found the top of the net and ensured Jeonbuk Hyundai began the campaign with a win. 


Tianjin Quanjian 3-0 Kitchee SC (Modeste 32' Paulinho 36' (OG) Sun Ke 39')


Chinese Super League (CSL) side Tianjin Quanjian registered an easy 3-0 win over Hong Kong's Kitchee SC on Tuesday to begin their campaign on the right note. 

The home team were the dominant force right from the start and they took the lead through Anthony Modeste in the 32nd minute. The striker headed home Mi Haolun’s cross before he engineered the second goal of the night. His strike on goal in the 36th minute was scuffed but it took a deflection off Paulinho and went in, much to the dismay of the visitors.

Three minutes later, Wang Yongpo’s cross from the right was headed in by Sun Ke as the scoreline read 3-0 even before half-time. 

Kitchee were able to prevent further damage but the three points on offer did go the home team's way. 

 

GROUP F: 


Melbourne Victory 3-3 Ulsan Hyundai (George 26', 37' Williams 54' - Orsic 24', 51' Windbichler 34')


Melbourne Victory v Ulsan Hyundai

A-League outfit Melbourne Victory played out an entertaining 3-3 draw with South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai on Tuesday in their Group F opener. 

Mislav Orsic handed Ulsan Hyundai the lead in the 24th minute with a dipping freekick which fooled the Victory goalkeeper. However, the home side hit back within two minutes as Dutchman Leroy George tapped in after pouncing on a rebound. 

Austrian defender Richard Windbichler then restored Ulsan's lead with a header before George equalised again, this time three minutes later. He smashed home from close-range to level the scores. 

However, the pattern was to repeat in the second half as well. Orsic gave Ulsan Hyundai the lead yet again after scoring a wonderful curling effort from outside the box. But three minutes later, Melbourne Victory had their equalsier again. Rhys Williams ghosted in at the far post from a set-piece situation to peg the away side back again and ensure a point for his side. 


Kawasaki Frontale 0-1 Shanghai SIPG (Elkeson 23')


Shanghai SIPG notched a tight 1-0 win over Japan's Kawasaki Frontale o Tuesday, thanks to a slitary strike from Elkeson. 

The team from China took the lead in the 23rd minute when Elkeson controlled Yu Hai’s cross from the left-wing fired across the goalkeeper. The home team tried their best to hit back immediately, with Shanghai goalkeeper Kengo Nakamura forced into a flying save around the half-hour mark. 

Both teams had chances to score in the second half, with Akihiro Ienaga missing a big chance for Kawasaki while Brazilian star Hulk also failed to score a free-kick from a promising position. Ultimately, Shanghai SIPG held on to register a crucial three points. 


GROUP G: 


Guangzhou Evergrande 1-1 Buriram United (Goulart 16' - Edgar 57')


Guangzhou Evergrande v Buriram United; AFC Champions League

Buriram United earned a crucial point after a 1-1 draw away to Guangzhou Evergrande in their Group G opener on Wednesday.

As expected, Guangzhou Evergrande started the game on front foot and were the dominant force early on. Ricardo Goulart handed them a deserved lead in the 16th minute when he got on the end of Li Xuepeng’s cross and headed home.

Buriram United slowly settled into the tie and threatened Guangzhou Evergrande as the match went on. In the 57th minute, they had their equaliser. Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri’s free-kick into the box wasn’t dealt with and Edgar bundled home from close-range. 

Both sides could not fashion a winner but Guangzhou Evergrande would be the unhappier of the two sides. . 


Jeju United 0-1 Cerezo Osaka (Mizunuma 90+3')


Japan's Cerezo Osaka scripted a late win over South Korea's Jeju United in their AFC Champions League 2018 opener on Wednesday.

Both teams were cagey at the start of the game, with neither giving much away. However, the first couple of chances fell the way of the visitors as Hiroshi Kiyotake and Kota Mizunuma missed chances early on. 

Jeju came out stronger after the restart and Lee Chang-min's acrobatic effort from Park’s centre went just wide, before Cho Yong-hyung headed over as the hosts cranked up the pressure. 

However, as the game wore on it seemed as if the goal might not come at all only for Mizunuma to tapped home after Lee Chang-geun failed to collect a ball, much to the dismay of the home team. 

 

GROUP H:


Sydney FC 0-2 Suwon Bluewings (Damjanovic 62', 76')


Suwon Bluewings garnered a crucial 2-0 away win in Australia as they downed Sydney FC, thanks to a brace from Dejan Damjanovic. 

It was the South Korean team who started the stronger of the two teams but there were no goals in the first half. 

In the second half, Damjanovic was afforded too much space by the home team's defence and he went on to score a low and hard effort from just outside the box to hand the away team the lead. 

Damjanovic would then go on to complete a brace by scoring a penalty in the 76th minute after Brandon O’Neill was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. Sydney FC could not produce a response as Suwon returned from Australia with three important points. 


Kashima Antlers 1-1 Shanghai Shenhua (Endo 51' - Moreno 3')


Kashima Antlers v Shanghai Shenhua; AFC Champions League

Japan's Kashima Antlers played out a 1-1 draw with Shanghai Shenhua in their opening game in Group H on Wednesday. 

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Shanghai Shenhua, playing their first ever game in the competition, had a dream start when they went into the lead in the third minute. Captain Giovanni Moreno headed home from Obafemi Martins' cross to stun the home crowd. 

Kashima could not find a goal back in the first half but equalised in the 51st minute. Yasushi Endo bundled home a loose ball after Yuma Suzuki’s fierce effort was blocked on to his path. 

Both side's had chances to get a winner late on but it was not to be. 

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