Australians signal title challenge

The Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United enjoy wins in the Asian Champions League.

    Gamba Osaka forward Bare, left, launches a
    shot in Osaka [AFP]
    Australian clubs Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United also posted opening-day victories to signal their challenge for the 2008 title on the opening day of the Asian Champions League.

    Japanese champions Kashima Antlers hit nine goals, while only an injury-time equaliser prevented compatriots Gamba Osaka suffering a shock defeat.

    Kashima Antlers made light work of their Thai opponents as they crushed Krung Thai Bank with a 9-1 away win.

    Forward Yuzo Tashiro, Brazilian striker Marquinhos and midfielder Takuya Nozawa got two goals each for the reigning J League champs, with Daiki Iwamasa, Takeshi Aoki and Ryuta Sasaki also on the scoresheet.

    Krung Thai Bank's only reply came through Ivory Coast's Kassim Kone.

    The J League Cup winners Gamba Osaka did not fare as well against Thai opposition, drawing 1-1 at home against Chonburi.

    The Thai champions took the lead when Arthit Suntornphit slotted home from close range in the 58th minute after an impressive run by Brazilian striker Ney Fabiano.

    The visitors looked to have secured an upset win until Brazilian striker Lucas, formerly of Rennes and newly signed from FC Tokyo, picked up a loose ball and fired home with seconds remaining.

    Melbourne get their Victory

    Gamba's failure to win was good news for Group G rivals Melbourne, which beat South Korea's Chunnam Dragons 2-0.

    Melbourne went ahead via a 29th minute penalty by former Australia defender Kevin Muscat, and took a grip on the match when Rody Vargas headed home in the 64th minute.

    Adelaide also had an impressive result against Korean opposition, winning 2-0 away at Pohang Steelers in Group E despite playing half the match with 10 men.

    The Australians took the lead in only the fourth minute when Robert Cornthwaite headed home a corner.

    Adelaide was reduced to 10 men when Jonas Salley was shown a second yellow card right on half time.

    Pohang twice hit the frame of the goal before Adelaide doubled its advantage on the hour when a mis-kick spun past the advancing Pohang goalkeeper and Bruce Djite fired into an empty net.

    The Steelers also had a man sent off, with Park Won-jae expelled eight minutes from time.

    Kevin Muscat opens the scoring in Melbourne
    China's champions rise again

    In the other Group E match, China Super League champion Changchun Yatai had a 2-1 home win over Vietnam's Binh Duong.

    The hosts took the lead in the fourth minute when Du Zhenyu curled a freekick over the defensive wall and into the far corner of the net.

    Nguyen Anh Duc's drew his side level eight minutes into the second half when Changchun failed to clear its defensive lines and he slid the ball home.

    The Chinese champion scored what proved the winner in the 70th minute when defender Cui Wei swiveled and shot into the roof of the net from close range.

    In Group F, China's Beijing Guoan kept pace with Kashima, posting a valuable 3-1 away win at Vietnam's Nam Dinh.

    Nam Dinh led at halftime courtesy of Le Van Duyet's spectacular volley in the 14th minute.

    Beijing Guoan had squandered several equalizing chances before Yan Xiangchuang found the net in the 57th minute.

    Just three minutes later, the visitors went ahead when substitute Du Wenhui got on the end of a throughball and converted from the edge of the penalty area.

    Nam Dinh's Emmanuel Onyeji was sent off with 12 minutes to play and Zhang Shuai put the result beyond doubt with an injury-time goal.

    Al Qadisiya leave it late to join winner's circle

    In Group D, Kuwait's Al Qadisiya stole all three points away at Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor when substitute Ahmed Ajab volleyed home from long range in injury time.

    It was cruel on Pakhtakor, which had dominated most of the play and was deserving of at least a point.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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