Beijing Guoan sink Victory

Asian Champions League kicks off with wins for Kashima Antlers and Bunyodkor.

    Beijing Guoan's Darko Matic, in green, battles against the Beijing defence [GALLO/GETTY]
    Chinese champions Beijing Guoan were 1-0 home winners over Australia's Melbourne Victory as Asia's top club competition got underway with eight matches played on Tuesday and another eight to be played on Wednesday.

    The battle began to reach the final in November, with the winner assured of a place in the Fifa Club World Cup and it was an Australian who provided the winner for Beijing in Group E, with striker Ryan Griffiths scoring in the 52nd.

    Former Brazil international Rivaldo scored as big-spending Bunyodkor began their Asian Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win over Al-Ittihad.

    The rich Uzbek club, with former Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari in charge, got off to a strong start in Group B with a home victory against the former two-time champions from Saudi Arabia.

    Winning start

    Japan's Kashima Antlers, South Korea's Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Seongnam Ilhwa and China's Beijing Guoan were also winners on the opening day of the group stage.

    The 37-year-old Rivaldo, who was part of the Brazil side that won the 2002 World Cup under Scolari, put Bunyodkor ahead in the fourth minute.

    Midfielder Jasur Hasanov doubled the advantage in the 21st, and Brazilian striker Denilson completed the scoring in the 67th.

    Denilson - namesake of the player who formerly was the world's most expensive player - was making his first appearance for Bunyodkor in the ACL after helping Pohang Steelers win the competition last year.

    In the other Group B match, Iran's Zob Ahan began their second stint in the league with a 1-0 win over Abu Dhabi's Al-Wahda.

    In Group A, Qatar's Al Gharafa won 2-1 at Al Jazira of United Arab Emirates with a 17th-minute goal from Othman Al Assas and another in the 53rd from Younis Mahmoud. Rafael Sobis pulled one back for the hosts in the 56th at Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium.

    Esteghlal of Iran also won 2-1 away in Group A, beating Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia at Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium in Jedda after Farhad Majidi scored in the 11th and 75th minutes. Al Raheb scored for Al Ahli in the 85th.

    Kashima had a 1-0 home win over China's Changchun Yatai in Group F, with the winner coming via a 43rd-minute header from midfielder Koji Nakata, who was back with the Antlers after spells with Marseille and Basel.

    "We are targeting to win the championship this season. Although our next game is away, I really want to be back home with a win," said Nakata.

    Kashima have won the past three J-League titles but were still seeking their first continental crown.

    Jeonbuk win

    ACL results

    Group A
     Al Jazira 1-2 Al Gharafa
     Al Ahli 1-2 Estheghal

    Group B
     Bunyodkur 3-0 Al Iittiad
     Zobahan 1-0 Al Wahda

    Group E
     S Ilhwa FC 2-0 K Frontale
     Beijing G 1-0 Melbourne

    Group F
     P Jayapura 1-4 J Motors
     Kashima 1-0 Changchun 

    Replacement Kruno Lovrek posted a hat trick as 2007 champions Jeonbuk cruised past Persipura Jayapura of Indonesia 4-1 at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.

    Kim Seung-yong's penalty started off Jeonbuk before Lovrek was sent in midway through the first half and scored two minutes later.

    Lovrek notched his second in the 66th, and after Ian Kabes replied for Persipura a minute later, Lovrek hit home his third with nine minutes to go.

    In South Korea, Seongnam were 2-0 winners over Japan's Kawasaki Frontale.

    The hosts went ahead in the 34th minute when powerful striker Dzenan Radoncic played a throughball for Mauricio Molina and the midfielder slid home the opener.

    Their roles were reversed for the second goal in the 78th minute as Molina teed up Radoncic's powerful finish.

    "It was a good team effort and we managed to get a good result.

    I am so happy to win our opening match at home and get our 2010 AFC Champions League campaign off to a good start," said coach Shin Tae-Young.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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