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Football
FC Tokyo roar into last 16
A lively victory over Brisbane Roar gives FC Tokyo a place in the next stage as Adelaide United's draw proves enough.
Last Modified: 02 May 2012 19:14
Kenta Mukuhara of FC Tokyo celebrates scoring against Brisbane Roar [GALLO/GETTY]


Japan's FC Tokyo booked a place in the knock-out stages of the AFC Champions League with an entertaining 4-2 victory over Australia's A-League champions Brisbane Roar on Wednesday.

Korea's Ulsan Hyundai secured Group F's second spot in the last 16 with a 3-2 win away against Beijing Guoan, with still one round to go in the group stages.

In Group E, Adelaide United, runners-up in 2008, made certain of going through, despite failing to find the back of the net in a scoreless draw against Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor.

In later play on Wednesday two-time winners Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia also assured themselves of a place in the next stage as they won away 2-1 against second-placed Pakhtakor, who finished the match with 10 men, in Uzbekistan.

"We lost a goal first and then we tied it and took the lead. It was big"

FC Tokyo's Austrian coach Ranko Popovic

The Roar, who lost to Tokyo 2-0 at home in their previous encounter, got off to a flying start in the fourth minute when a free kick from German Thomas Broich hit the right post and Albanian Besart Berisha knocked in the rebound.

But only a minute later Hideto Takahashi lashed an equaliser in off the post from outside the box, and midway through the first half Kenta Mukuhara added a second.

Broich pulled one back in the 33rd minute, but Kazuma Watanabe was brought down by Bahrain defender Sayed Mohamed Adnan in the area at the end of the first half and hit home from the spot for the Emperor's Cup winners to retake the lead.

Watanabe scored a second on the hour to the delight of the home fans, who had come out to see the team in torrential weather.

"We lost a goal first and then we tied it and took the lead. It was big," said FC Tokyo's Austrian coach Ranko Popovic.

"We were down and then up. It was a historical moment for FC Tokyo, who took part in the AFC Champions League for the first time and qualify for the next round. I'm really happy about it."

FC Tokyo face a showdown with Ulsan Hyundai in two weeks in the final group match to decide who goes top of the table and takes home advantage into the next stage.

Revived hope

In Group E, Pohang Steelers, who beat Gamba Osaka 2-0 win at home, will face off against Bunyodkor to decide who makes the knock-outs, with the Uzbeks needing a win to go through.

Goals from the Steelers' Kim Jin-Ryong and Derek Asamoah were enough to sink any faint hopes Gamba, the 2008 tournament winners, may have had of going through.

"I am really happy because the result has revived our hope of reaching the last 16," said Pohang coach Hwang Sun-Hong.

"The match against Bunyodkor is now very important. As it will be a decisive game I will ask my players to keep their concentration for the next match."

"We find ourselves in the top 16 in Asia and that's a huge benefit to the club, the branding of Adelaide United continues in Asia and that's a reputation that we hold so much for years to come"

Adelaide coach Luciano Trani

Adelaide United's qualification was a huge boost coming after a poor season in the Australian A-League, although they still need to beat Gamba in Japan to ensure home advantage in the last 16.

Reds winger Iain Ramsay had two good opportunities in the first half, his first shot sailing over the cross bar and his second cleared off the line.

Defender Iain Fyfe then missed a close-range header in the 66th minute before a speculative 15-metre drive from Fabian Barbiero deflected off a teammate and went wide.

"We find ourselves in the top 16 in Asia and that's a huge benefit to the club, the branding of Adelaide United continues in Asia and that's a reputation that we hold so much for years to come," said Adelaide coach Luciano Trani.

All the goals in the Al-Ittihad match came in the second-half as Naif Hazazi opened the scoring for the visitors just before the hour mark.

Pakthakor replied in sterling fashion levelling through Irakli Klimiashvili in the 69th minute but their hopes of going on to win from there were dealt a huge blow a minute later as defender Egor Krimets was sent-off.

Indeed it was to be a really sour end to the night for the hosts as in the final minute of the match Mohammed Abusabaan nipped in to score the winner.

Source:
AFP
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