Steelers steer to clear victory over Gamba

Pohang Steelers get off to positive start in Asian Champions League but same cannot be said for Brisbane Roar.

     Watanabe Kazuma (R) of FC Tokyo dribbles past Erik Paartalu of Brisbane Roar during his team's victory [AFP]

    Three-time continental champions Pohang Steelers opened the 2012 Asian Champions League group stage with a convincing 3-0 away win over 2008 winners Gamba Osaka on Tuesday.

    In Group F, FC Tokyo won 2-0 away at Brisbane and Ulsan held off Beijing Guoan 2-1 at home.

    Bani Yas of the United Arab Emirates made an impressive start, beating Qatari Al Arabi 2-0 in a Group B match. The other UAE club, Al Jazira, had their Group A match at Nasaf of Uzbekistan postponed because of snow.

    Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia routed Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan 4-0 in the other Group B clash.

    "We played so badly tonight that I want to apologise to the fans"

    Gamba coach Jose Carlos Serrao

    In Osaka, Pohang's Kim Tae-su opened the scoring with a 19th-minute header in the Group E match and Zoran Rendulic made it 2-0 for the powerful South Korean club three minutes later when goalkeeper Yosuke Fujigaya's attempted clearance hit the Serbian defender and deflected into goal.

    Veteran Ghana forward Derek Asamoah put the result beyond doubt for Pohang in the 79th minute.

    Pohang, Asian club champions in 1997, '98 and 2009, had to come through a qualifying playoff win over Chonburi of Thailand to reach the group stage, while Gamba qualified automatically by placing third in the J-League.

    "We played so badly tonight that I want to apologise to the fans,'' said Jose Carlos Serrao, the Brazilian who has replaced Akira Nishino as Gamba coach.

    "We had two chances before our opponents took the lead but could not take them. We have a lot to work on if we want to advance past the group stage.''

    Roaring to defeat

    It was a disappointing debut for reigning A-League champion Brisbane Roar, who fell behind Japanese Emperors Cup holders FC Tokyo seconds before halftime when Tatsuya Yazawa scored from Yuhei Tokunaga perfect cross from
    the right.

    Ariajasuru Hasegawa made it 2-0 in the 55th when he knocked in the rebound after Brisbane goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos parried a shot from Nahya Naotake in wet and slippery conditions at Suncorp Stadium.

    At Ulsan, Kim Shin-wook and Ko Seul-ki gave the Korean club a 2-0 halftime lead with goals in the 25th and 35th minutes. Cheng Piao pulled one back for Beijing in the 51st but the Chinese club were unable to find an equaliser in
    the last 40 minutes.

    Bani Yas are making their debut in the competition but inexperience didn't show. Captain Yousef Jaber scored a penalty in the 45th minute, after Abdulaziz al-Sulaiti had tripped Fareed Ismail in the box.

    Spanish midfielder Fran Yeste doubled the lead when he received a pass from striker Andre Senghor and slotted the ball into the net in the 77th minute.

    Al Ittihad striker Faouzi opened the scoring in the third minute, midfielder Mohammed Abusabaan added a double in the 30th and 51st minutes, and Abdullah Omar completed the scoring in the 58th.

    Al Ittihad, who reached the semifinals last year, have hosted Pakhtakor six times in the Asian Champions League and never lost.

    Iranian giant Esteghlal also made a good start, downing Qatar's Al Rayyan 1-0 with Croatian striker Goran Jerkovic scoring the winner in extra time.

    The opening night of the tournament featured eight matches across groups A, B, E and F. Action in groups C, D, G and H will start on Wednesday.

    The top two teams in each of the eight groups advance to a knockout round of 16 on May 29 and 30.

    SOURCE: AP


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