Gamba lead Japanese charge
Goals galore as defending champions and Kawasaki score ten goals between them.
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2009 14:35 GMT

Japan's Gamba Osaka forward Leandro gets to the ball first [AFP]
Japanese teams dominated the Asian Champions League as Gamba Osaka and Kawasaki Frontale remained group front-runners with dominant 5-0 performances.

Defending champions Gamba predictably cruised past Indonesia's Sriwijaya, while Kawasaki dominated Australia's out-of-form Central Coast Mariners.

Gamba remain the only perfect team in the league, recording three wins from as many matches in Group F, while their beaten opponents Sriwijaya languish without a point at the bottom.

In the other group match, China's Shandong Luneng had a 2-0 home win over South Korea's FC Seoul.

Kawasaki stay at the top of Group H, two points ahead of South Korea's Pohang Steelers, who had a 1-0 home victory over China's Tianjin Teda.

Central Coast were third, ahead of Tianjin.

Gamba pressure

Gamba were forced to wait until the 40th minute to score against Sriwijaya, but then piled on another four in quick succession.

Brazilian striker Leandro was the catalyst, scoring the opening two just before halftime.

An own goal by Sriwijaya early in the second half followed by a goal by Gamba defender Satoshi Yamaguchi put the game out of reach before midfielder Kodai Yasuda completed the scoring in the 66th.

Shandong Luneng took outright second spot in the group, as China striker Lu Zheng scored one and created another to defeat Seoul.

Following a lacklustre first half, Lu opened the scoring from 15 metres in the 54th minute, and in the 72nd he set up Han Peng.

Kawasaki Frontale were immediately on the front foot against Central Coast, going ahead after just seven minutes via North Korea international Jong Tae-se's header and leading 3-0 at halftime.

Juninho scored eight minutes before halftime and set up fellow Brazilian Renatinho's goal that made it 5-0 late in the second half.

It was the heaviest defeat ever for the struggling Mariners, who have not won a domestic or continental match in 2009.

"They were just too good for us,'' Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna said.

"We went from a great performance in China to our worst ever tonight.''

Pohang victory

Asian Champions league

Tuesday April 7
Group A
Saba Battery (Iran) 0 - 2 Pakhtakor (Uzb)
Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) 2-1 Al Ahli (UAE)

Group C
Umm-Salal (Qatar) 1-0 Esteghlal (Iran)
Al Jazira (UAE) 0-0 Al Ittihad (Saudi A)

Group E
N Grampus (Japan) 1-1 N'castle Jets (Aus)
U Hyundi (S Korea 1-0 B Guoan (China)

Group G
Armed Forces (Sing) 1-4 K Antlers (Japan)
S Shenhua (Chi) 2-1 Bluewings (S Korea)

Wednesday April 8
Group B
Sharjah (UAE) 1-1 Shabab (Saudi Arabia)
Piroozi Athletic (Iran) 3-1 Al Gharafa (Qat)

Group D
Ettifaq (S Arabia) 4-1 Al Ahli (UAE)
Bunyodkor (Uzb) 2-2 Foolad Sepahan (Iran)

Group F
S Luneng (China) 2-0 FC Seoul (S Korea)
G Osaka (Japan) 5-0 Sriwijaya FC (Ind)

Group H
P Steelers (S Korea) 1-0 T Teda (China)
Mariners (Aus) 0-5 Kawasaki (Jap)

Pohang needed only one goal to down Tianjin, though their dominance merited more.

The Steelers wasted a few opportunities before breaking the deadlock after 66 minutes. Brasilia's cross was headed in by substitute Hwang Jin-sung.

Piroozi Athletic had little trouble handling Qatar's Al Gharafa before 50,000 in pouring rain at Tehran's Azadi Stadium.

Maziar Zare knocked in a penalty in the 36th minute, striker Ebrahim Toureh doubled the lead in first-half injury time and midfielder Ali Reza Vahedi Nikbakht made it 3-0 in the 47th.

Brazilian Fernandao pulled one back for Al Gharafa in the 69th from a free kick but Piroozi extended their lead in Group B with Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab, opening a four-point gap on Al Gharafa.

Sharjah, without a point, have been all but eliminated.

Sharjah scored first at home through Anderson Barbosa, but Al Shabab dominated for the rest of the way.

Nasser al-Shamrani equalised in the 20th, and Abdu Attef scored just before halftime, and Marcelo Camache just after.

In a tight Group D, Foolad Sepahan of Iran became the first visiting team in six matches to take a point by conceding a 2-2 draw with Bunyodkor in Tashkent.

Ettifaq defeated Emirates league champion Al Shabab Al Ahli 4-1 to take over sole lead of the group. Sepahan and Bunyodkor were tied for second.

Shavkat Salomov gave Bunyodkor the first goal in the 27th but the game was tied by halftime thanks to Seyed Hadi Aghily's rebound strike off a saved free kick in injury time.

After hitting the crossbar earlier, Emad Mohammed put Sepahan ahead in the 61st but couldn't hold it, as Bakhitiyor Ashurmatov levelled 15 minutes from the end.

Prince Tagoe and Saleh Bashir scored twice each as Ettifaq easily won in Dammam, where Al Shabab Al Ahli came without first-choice goalkeeper Ismail Rabea, who broke his hand.

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