Sendai win first Champions League match

Ecstatic Vegalta Sendai coach declares it 'historic day' as his side claim first AFC Champions League win against Seoul.

    Sendai win first Champions League match
    Atsushi Yanagisawa (C, #13) sends ball into the net to seal memorable win for Sendai [AFP]

    Japan's Vegalta Sendai stunned FC Seoul with their first ever AFC Champions League victory on Wednesday as they ignited their hopes of reaching the knock-out phase on debut.

    Former Japan international Atsushi Yanagisawa headed the game's only goal on 16 minutes as Sendai prevented Seoul's early qualification and rose to within two points of the Group E leaders with two games to go.

    "It was a historic day as we won a game in Asia. I feel like we can move up (to the knock-out round)," said Sendai's jubilant coach Makoto Teguramori.

    But Sendai's heroics were matched by Thailand's Buriram United, who drew level with the Japanese team on points as they upset China's Jiangsu Sainty 2-0 at their rocking home stadium.

    "It was a historic day as we won a game in Asia. I feel like we can move up (to the knock-out round)"

    Sendai coach Makoto Teguramori

    Elsewhere, J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima earned their first point in a 1-1 draw with Pohang Steelers, saving themselves from an early exit. Also in Group G, Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor beat Beijing Guoan 1-0 to go two points clear.

    At Sendai Stadium, the hosts' Brazilian striker Wilson hit the bar in the eighth minute but it was Yanagisawa who sent the home fans into ecstasy when he headed in from a Ryang Yong-Gi corner.

    Seoul came close to the equaliser in the second half when Dejan Damjanovic struck the bar, while Mauricio Molina's shot was saved and Kim Ju-Young's header went wide.

    In Buriram, backed by their noisy home fans, the hosts took the lead in the first half through Suchao Nutnum, and Charyl Chappuis fired the second on the hour mark when he stretched to meet a ball behind the defence from Kai Hirano.

    But the Swiss-born player's joy was tempered when he injured his right knee during his celebration and had to be stretchered from the pitch.

    In Group G, Naoki Ishihara sparked hopes of a Sanfrecce win when he scored on 62 minutes, but the lead was quickly snuffed out by Hwang Jin-Sung's tap-in for Pohang five minutes later.

    In Wednesday's later matches, Saudi's Al Shabab reached the last 16 from Group A after beating Tractorsazi of Iran 1-0.

    Fellow Saudi side Al Ahli also made the knockout stages with a 4-1 thumping of Iranian team Sepahan in Group C to register their fourth win in four matches.

    The top two from eight four-team groups will make up next month's last 16, played over two legs home and away. The competition then takes a break to avoid the harsh Middle East summer, before resuming for the quarter-finals in August.

    SOURCE: AFP


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