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Football

Tense AFC clash ends in draw

Crowds are kept apart as Jiangsu Sainty and Vegalta Sendai meet in AFC Champions League at scene of notorious massacre.
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2013 16:34
Thousands of police officers ensured Chinese and Japanese supporters did not clash [AFP]

Jiangsu Sainty played out a tense 0-0 draw with Japan's Vegalta Sendai under tight security but with no violent flare-ups on Tuesday in Nanjing, scene of a notorious massacre by Japanese troops.

In a highly charged atmosphere, about 6,000 police were at the Olympic Sports Center stadium and occasional taunts were directed at the small group of around 100 Japanese fans, who were gathered together and under heavy guard.

The home crowd broke into an emotive rendition of the Chinese national anthem just before kick-off. But there was no violence or widespread displays of anger, despite enduring bitterness in China over the 1937-1938 mass killings and rapes.

The result earned debutants Jiangsu, hosting their first AFC Champions League game, their first point of the pan-Asian competition but could not lift them off the foot of Group E.

Jiangsu's fans left disappointed after their team pressed strongly for a late winner, only to be held goalless by the Japanese visitors.

Ever-grand

Earlier, Marcello Lippi's Guangzhou Evergrande gave their title hopes a boost when they fought back to earn a 1-1 away draw with former winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

The Chinese champions fell behind to a first-half strike from Jeonbuk's Kim Jung-Woo, and the hosts nearly went further ahead when Australian defender Alex Wilkinson and Brazilian midfielder Leonardo both went close with headers.

But Guangzhou, gunning to add Champions League glory to last year's Chinese double under World Cup-winning coach Lippi, got back on terms through Brazilian goal-machine Muriqui, who equalised in the 64th minute.

And Guangzhou nearly snatched a famous win when Argentine midfielder Dario Conca saw his header denied by the crossbar. However, the result was enough to keep them top of Group F and unbeaten after two games.

Elsewhere, Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds climbed off the bottom of the same group in fine style with a thumping 4-1 win over Thailand's Muangthong United, who went down to 10 men after Piyaphon Buntao was sent off after half-an-hour.

By that stage, the Thai side were already a goal in arrears and Urawa, the 2007 winners, made their advantage count when Kunimitsu Sekiguchi and Genki Haraguchi both scored in five second-half minutes.

Thritthi Nonsrichai's own goal 12 minutes from time compounded Muangthong's misery before Siaka Dagno grabbed a consolation strike at the death.

But there was better news for another Thai outfit, domestic cup-holders Buriram United, who fended off South Korean champions FC Seoul 0-0 at home in Group E.

The evening's action continues in West Asia with games including UAE's Al Jazira against Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia, and Uzbek outfit Pakhtakor's away date with Emirati side Al Shabab Al Arabi.

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Source:
AFP
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