Brazilian forward Muriqui scored in the second half on Wednesday to lead Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande to a 2-1 win over Australian club Central Coast Mariners in the round of 16 of the Asian Champions League.
Mitchell Duke put the hosts ahead in the seventh minute before Paraguay striker Lucas Barrios equalised midway through the first half. The A-League side looked set for at least a draw but Muriqui beat goalkeeper Mat Ryan with 15 minutes left.
Though Mariners had several chances in the last 15 minutes, Guangzhou goalkeeper Zeng Cheng was in position to preserve the victory for Marcello Lippi's side.
"There's a huge difference between the budgets and the quality in the front part of the field"
Mariners coach Graham Arnold
Guangzhou, helped by an investment of more than $60 million, have won the last two Chinese titles and were narrowly defeated in the 2012 Asian Champions League quarterfinals. Mariners operate under a salary cap of $2.48 million.
The return match will be played at Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou on May 22.
"There's a huge difference between the budgets and the quality in the front part of the field," Mariners coach Graham Arnold said.
"But again I was very proud of the performance and we'll go over there and give it our best shot."
In Jeanju, South Korea, Masato Kudo and Tatsuya Masushima scored to lead Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol to a 2-0 win over Jeonbuk Motors.
Kashiwa, the only Japanese team left in this year's competition, went in front through an early header from Kudo.
Goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno made a series of fine saves to protect the lead before Masushima headed home the second with 16 minutes left to put the 2011 Japanese champions ahead for the second leg at Hitachi Stadium next Wednesday.
"We are only halfway there and leading 2-0,'' Kudo said.
"Hopefully we can take advantage of being at home in the next game and finish the job."
The round of 16 is now played over two legs with the group runners-up hosting the first leg.