South Korea pile on the pressure

K-League clubs dominate as Bluewings and Jeonbuk record easy wins in the Asian Champions League.

    Ha Tae-Goon completes his hat-trick as the K-League clubs continue to dominate the ACL. [AFP]

    South Korean clubs continued their dominant start to the Asian Champions League with the Suwon Samsung Bluewings and 2006 league winners Jeonbuk Motors romping to comprehensive 4-0 wins on Wednesday.

    Elsewhere Saudi giants Al Ittihad bolstered their chances of reaching the knockout stages by beating Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor 1-0 and China's Shandong Luneng beat Japan's Cerezo Osaka 2-0 at home.

    The match between Kashima Antlers and Sydney FC was postponed due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

    Hat-trick

    Suwon top Group H with two wins out of two after Ha Tae-Gyun hit a hat-trick.

    Tae-Goon showed why he's regarded as one of the rising stars of Korean football by scoring in the third, 61st and 75th minutes. International midfielder Oh Jang-Eun added another in the 43rd to propel the two-time Asian champions to a convincing victory.

    Compatriates Jeonbuk Motors won 4-0 away at Indonesia's Arema to make it two wins from two games.

    Midfielder Kim Ji-Woong put Jeonbuk ahead in the 26th minute, and the visitors piled on three goals from the 78th to 88th; the first from Chinese midfielder Huang Bowen then two more by Brazilian Luiz Henrique.

    Jeonbuk coach Choi Kang-Hee felt the win had not come easily, despite the one-sided outcome.

    "Arema played really well in the first half," he said.

    "But it all changed after the second goal. Our players relieved the tension. We could play better after we doubled our lead."

    Arema remain without a point from two games.

    Shandong Luneng's goals came from Brazilian defender Renato Silva in the 22nd and Wang Yangpo in the 33rd and they held on despite Cui Peng being sent off in the 83rd.

    It was a bad round for Osaka sides, as Cerezo's crosstown rival Gamba Osaka also lost away at Tianjin Teda on Tuesday.

    Strong start

    Results & fixtures

    Tuesday March 15

    Group E
    Melb Victory 1-2 Jeju United
    Tianjin Teda 2-1 Gamba Osaka

    Group F
    Nagoya Grampus v Al Ain - pp
    Seoul 3-0 Hangzhou

    Group A
    Al Gharafa 0-1 Al Hilal
    Sepahan 5 -1 Al Jazira

    Group B
    Al Nassr 2-1 Esteghlal

    Wednesday March 16

    Group B
    Al Sadd 2-1 Pakhtakor

    Group C
    Bunyodkor 0-1 Al Ittihad
    Piroozi Athletic 1-1 Al Wahda

    Group D
    Emirates 2-0 Al Rayyan
    Al Shabab 0-0 Zobahan

    Group G
    Shandong FC 2-0 Cerezo Osaka
    Arema 0-4 Jeonbuk

    Group H
    Kashima v Sydney FC - pp
    Bluewings 4-0 Shanghai Shenhua

    In Tashkent, Al Ittihad's victory over Bunyodkor was their second in two matches and gave them plenty of breathing room at the top of Group C.

    Bunyodkor started strongly and had several early chances, including a volley from Victor Karpenko in the eighth minute that went just wide. The Uzbek squad almost scored 17 minutes later when Shavkat Salamov chested down a cross in the penalty area but bungled the shot.

    The Saudi side then stepped up the attack and it paid off in the 33rd when Osama Al Harbi outjumped Askar Jadigerov to meet a cross at the back post and head it past Bunyodkor goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov for the winner.

    In Doha, substitute Ali Arif's second-half header helped Al Sadd beat 10-man Pakhtakor 2-1 to get their campaign on track with a first win in Group B.

    Al Sadd took the lead just before half-time courtesy of Lee Jung-soo's stunning volley but Temurkhuja Abdulkholiqov levelled for visiting Pakhtakor in the 56th.

    Four minutes later, Arif headed home the winner from close range to seal the points for Al Sadd. Pakhtakor's bid to salvage a point was all but lost after Komoliddin Tadjiev was sent off on the stroke of full time.

    Flying Emirates

    In Group D action, first-half goals from Nabil Daoudi and Hadef Al Zaabi earned Emirates a surprise 2-0 win at home to Qataris Al Rayyan.

    The UAE representatives are now a point behind Iranian group leaders Zobahan - last season's runners-up - who drew 0-0 at Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi giants Al Ittihad are now four points clear in Group C following a 1-0 win at the home of Uzbek champions Bunyodkor.

    "To be honest, I did not expect that we could beat Bunyodkor in Tashkent," said Al Ittihad coach Toni, whose side prevailed through a 33rd-minute header from Osama Al Harbi.

    "We are now in an excellent position in the group. This victory has significantly improved our chances of reaching the next round."

    In the other group game, Iran's Piroozi Athletic drew 1-1 at home to Al Wahda of the UAE.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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