He's the man - Dejan Damjanovic scores FC Seoul's second goal [AFP]

South Korea's FC Seoul and Suwon Bluewings underlined the country's status as a rising powerhouse in Asian football as both sides sent Japanese opposition packing in Wednesday's Asian Champions League action.

FC Seoul powered past Kashima Antlers 3-0 and Suwon made light work of J-League champions Nagoya Grampus to win 2-0 as both sides join Korea's 2006 Asian champions Joenbuk Motors in the last eight of Asia's premier footballing competition.

The signs are good for all three Korean teams, with K-League teams having won the competition for the past two years – Pohang Steelers in 2009 and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in 2010. 

Only one Japanese team, Cerezo Osaka will be in the quarters.

In Wednesday's later games, Qatar's Al Sadd beat Al Shabab through a single goal at home while Iran's Zobahan brushed aside Al Nassr 4-1, making it a bad evening for the two Saudi sides.

Slow start

In Seoul, a cagey opening half only came to life in the closing stages.

The opening goal came in the 38th minute from the domestic title-holders from a seemingly unthreatening position, but Bang Seung-hwan's speculative shot went through the legs of the covering defender and across the goalkeeper into the bottom left corner of the net.

The second goal, in the 55th, was impressive, with Uzbekistan international Server Djeparov breaking down the left wing and crossing to Montenegrin forward Dejan Damjanovic, who hit a sweetly struck volley past the helpless goalkeeper in the 55th.

Kashima rarely threatened, but should have been given a lifeline in the 71st when an apparently legitimate goal was incorrectly ruled offside.

Results

Tuesday 24 May

 Jeonbuk 3-0 Tianjin Teda
 Gamba 0-1 Cerezo Osaka
 Sepahan 3-1 Bunyodkor
 Al Ittihad 3-1 Al Hilal

Wednesday 25 May

 Al Sadd 1-0 Al Shabab
 Zobahan 4-1 Al Nassr
 Suwon 2-0 Nagoya
 FC Seoul 3-0 Kashima

Ko Myong-jin added a third on the break in the closing seconds. The Antlers had committed all bar one outfield player forward for a corner, and when the ball was cleared, Ko controlled it, sidestepped the last defender, chipped the ball over the onrushing keeper and ran forward to place it in the empty net.

No reply

Meanwhile Yeom Ki-Hoon led the way for Suwon when he opened the scoring on 23 minutes.

And there was to be no route back for Nagoya after Lee Sang-Ho grabbed the second on 57 minutes.

Iranian side Sepahan were the other team to reach the quarter-finals on Tuesday when they ousted Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor 3-1.

Al Ittihad were the last West Asian team to lift the trophy when they completed back-to-back wins in 2005, but the event has since had only Japanese and South Korean winners.

The competition takes a hiatus for nearly four months before returning for two-legged quarter and semi-finals in September and October, ahead of the final in November.

Source: Agencies