Japanese teams Kashima Antlers and Gamba Osaka extended their lead atop their Asian Champions League groups with narrow wins as the group stage reached the halfway point.
|Lucas Severino hits the winner in Melbourne |
for Gamba Oasaka [GALLO/GETTY]
Australia's Adelaide United, China's Changchun Yatai, South Korea's Chunnam Dragons and Iran’s Sepahan also won by one-goal margins Wednesday to boost their chances of progressing to the quarterfinals.
In Kashima, the Antlers downed China's Beijing Guoan 1-0 to post their third successive victory.
Brazilian forward Danilo scored eight minutes into the second half against a Beijing side that played with ten men from the 33rd minute.
Goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata protected the advantage by saving Tiago's penalty in the 57th minute.
With only one team from each group to progress to the last eight, Kashima has nine points, three ahead of Beijing in what is shaping as a two-team struggle for a quarterfinal berth.
Thailand's Krung Thai Bank has three points and Vietnam's Nam Dinh is pointless.
Krung Thai Bank had a 9-1 win over Vietnam's Nam Dinh on Wednesday.
The scoreline was an exact reverse of the Thais' humiliating loss to Kashima in its previous home game. Krung Thai Bank's three games so far have produced an extraordinary 26 goals.
Seven goal thriller
Gamba Osaka won 4-3 away at Australia's Melbourne Victory, with the winner being scored by Lucas in the 90th minute.
The Brazilian forward was left unmarked by a tiring Melbourne defense and the substitute calmly headed in a cross from the left.
The win put Gamba on seven points, three ahead of Thailand's Chonburi.
Melbourne and Chunnam have three points each.
|Rodrigo Vargas of the Melbourne Victory sees|
just that slip away [GALLO/GETTY]
In a see-sawing encounter, Melbourne took the lead on a fourth-minute goal by Danny Allsopp, but Takahiro Futagawa equalized in the 32nd minute.
Osaka took the lead on Brazilian striker Bare's 39th-minute goal, but Victory defender Rody Vargas scored in the 41st minute to make it 2-2 at half time.
Allsopp's second goal of the match in the 66th minute gave Melbourne the lead, but captain Satoshi Yamaguchi headed in a corner three minutes later to tie the score before Lucas's late winner.
Chunnam also got a 90th minute winner to down Chonburi. The game, blighted by rain and strong wind, looked set for a goalless draw before former Club Brugge forward Victor Simoes curled a freekick over the wall and into the top corner of the Thai goal.
Adelaide stay top
Adelaide retained top spot in Group E with a 2-1 win away at Vietnam's Binh Duong.
Diego Walsh headed Adelaide in front in the 10th minute, and Richie Alagich doubled that advantage with a header of his own in the 77th minute.
The Australians struggled with the humidity late in the match and South African forward Philani Kubheka pulled a goal back for the hosts in the 82nd minute.
Their chances of finding an equaliser disappeared with the expulsion of striker Lima in the closing stages.
The win puts Adelaide level with Changchun Yatai on seven points, with the Australians in front on goal difference.
South Korea's Pohang Steelers have three points, and Binh Duong is pointless.
Chinese champions Changchun Yatai scored a critical late winner in beating Pohang 1-0.
Guillaume Dah Zadi, an Ivory Coast international striker, headed into an unguarded net after the Pohang defense failed to clear a corner in the 86th
Changchun had China national team goalkeeper Zong Lei to thank for the win, as he pulled off a series of impressive saves in a match dominated by the visiting Koreans.
In Group A, Sepahan of Iran defeated Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia 2-1.
Mohammad Mahdi Seyed Salehi gave Sepahan, last year's runner-up, the lead from close range in the 61st minute. Hadi Aghili made it 2-0 in the 72nd.
Al-Ittihad scored a consolation goal in the 89th.