Adelaide United kick off their Asian Champions League campaign with 1-0 over Pohang Steelers.
|Sasa Ognenovski scores Illhwa’s first goal at Melbourne’s stadium [AFP]|
Melbourne Victory’s Asian Champions League campaign was dealt another blow with the A-League team losing 2-0 to Seongnam Illhwa at their home Etihad Stadium.
Despite the Australian team facing their third domestic grand final in four seasons in just 10 days, the loss to the South Korean team puts qualification for the next phase of Asia’s most prestigious club competition virtually out of reach.
Fellow Group E contenders Beijing Guoan continued their unbeaten form with a 3-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale thanks to a brace from Wang Changqing.
Joel Griffiths scored in the 36th minute to give Beijing a 1-0 lead but Kosuke Kikuchi levelled just four minutes later.
Wang, who went on at the start of the second half, gave Beijing a 2-1 lead in the 65th minute and put the game out of reach with his second four minutes from time.
Guoan, looking to qualify for the knockout stage for the first time, improved to 2-0 in Group E.
Kawasaki lost their first round match 2-0 away to Seongnam Ilhwa.
Former Brisbane and Adelaide defender Sasa Ognenovski scored a late-first half goal for Ilhwa and Melbourne’s fate was sealed after a header from defender Yoon Toung-Sun.
After losing 1-0 to Beijing Guoan in the first round last week, the Australian side have not yet picked up a point and find themselves six points adrift of the group leaders, their impressive conquerors from South Korea.
Melbourne face a difficult road ahead with Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale next.
Melbourne striker Archie Thompson placed some blame for the loss on the quality of Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, describing the pitch as “a cow paddock.”
“We could harp on about it … but they had to play on it also and they managed to get two goals, and we didn’t,” Thompson said.
China’s Changchun made the most of their home advantage to thrash Indonesia’s Persipura Jayapura 9-0 in a chilly encounter at the Jingkai Stadium in northern China in temperatures of minus six degrees Celsius.
Costa Rican Johnny Woodly Lambert and Gao Jian both got hat-tricks, while substitute Liu Weidong nabbed two goals and Wang Bo rounded out the scoring.
Bunyodkor on form
Elsewhere, Uzbek giants Bunyodkor continued their 100 per cent record in Group B with Brazilian striker Denilson grabbing two to propel Luis Felipe Scolari’s side to a 2-1 victory over Al Wahda of the UAE.
Saeed Al Kathiri grabbed a late consolation goal for the hosts with a minute left, but it was not enough to save his side from a second consecutive defeat.
In Tehran, reigning Iranian champions Esteghlal played out a goaless draw with Al Jazira of the UAE.
Both sides failed to take their chances with Al Jazira’s Khalid Sebil hitting a long-range effort against the bar three minutes before the break and Esteghlal’s Fabio Januario also striking the woodwork from inside the box in first-half stoppage-time.
In Group A’s other game, Qatar’s Al Gharafa left it late to overcome Saudi team Al Ahli 3-2 in Doha thanks to goals from Sadd Al Shammari and Brazilian striker Araujo in the last ten minutes.
The hosts took the lead through Mohammed Al Zaini after just two minutes, but Al Ahli came pulled it back to 2-1 until Al Shammari’s and Araujo’s heroics sealed the win in the game’s dying moments.
Meanwhile, last year’s beaten finalists Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia blew a two-goal lead at home to Iran’s Zob Ahan at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium.
Enzo Trossero’s side went into the half-time break two goals up after Abdul-Malik Ziaya scored on 12 minutes before Mohammed Noor added a second on 41 minutes.
But Fahadi Esmaeil grabbed one back for Zob Ahan five minutes after the break, with Mohammed Ghazi adding the equaliser just two minutes later.