Koreans power through to knockout

Suwon and Seongnam join Jeonbuk Motors in last 16 of Asian Champions League.

    Mota heads for a celebration after scoring Suwon's opening goal [AFP]

    South Korea's Suwon Bluewings and Seongnam Ilhwa qualified for the last 16 of the Asian Champions League - as Japan's Gamba Osaka took a giant step towards joining them.

    Suwon beat China's Henan Jianye 2-0, with a first-half strike by Brazilian Jose Mota and a second in the dying minutes of their Group G clash on Wednesday.

    Seongnam maintained their unbeaten record in Group E with a 1-0 away result over Beijing Guoan, with Colombian Mauricio Molina hitting the winner with 16 minutes remaining.

    It gives South Korea three teams in the knockout rounds after Jeonbuk Motors qualified on Tuesday alongside Japan's Kashima Antlers.

    The fourth Korean club, defending champions Pohang Steelers, are well placed to make it four-out-of-four.

    Gamba beat Armed Forces

    J-League stalwarts Gamba, the 2008 Asian champions, inched closer after a 3-0 win over Singapore Armed Forces, whose campaign ended with just one point from four games.

    It was a one-sided match with Gamba firing 20 shots on target in the first half alone.

    In the 28th minute Takahiro Futagawa sent a short corner to defender Michihiro Yasuda, who dribbled into the area and fired home an angled shot.

    Shoki Hirai, who scored a hat-trick in the first leg a week ago, made it 2-0 with a sweet strike in the 55th minute and Brazilian substitute Ze Carlos wrapped it up in injury time.

    ACL results

    Wednesday March 31

    Group A
     Al Gharafa 1-1 Esteghlal
     Al Jazira 0-2 Al Ahli

    Group C

    Sepahan 2-0 Pakhtakor
     Al Shabab 3-2 Al Ain

    Group E

    Beijing 0-1 Seongnam
     Melbourne 1-0 Kawasaki

    Group G

    mba 3-0 Singapore
     Suwon 2-0 Henan Jianye

    Melbourne Victory kept their slim hopes alive with their first win, beating Japan's Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 in the other Group E game.

    Skipper Kevin Muscat converted a 60th-minute penalty.
    The match turned on the decision by the Iranian referee to award a soft-looking penalty to Melbourne after striker Robbie Kruse was brought down.

    It leaves Kawasaki with three points, three adrift of Beijing in the fight for the second qualifying berth.

    Draw in Doha

    In Group A, Iranian side Esteghlal came away with a superb 1-1 draw in Doha against Al Gharafa which sees the visitors retain their one point advantage over them.

    However, Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia are breathing down their necks after doing the double over United Arab Emirates side Al Jazira as a brace by Victor de Oliveira saw them move onto six points, just two adrift of the leaders.

    On a good day for Iranian sides Sepahan, beaten finalists in the 2007 AFC Champions League, defeated Uzbekistan Cup winners Pakhtakor 2-0 in the Iranian city of Esfahan, which saw them reduce the gap between the two sides to just a point.

    Sepahan won the match with two goals in two minutes of the second-half as Senegalese striker Ibrahima Toure opened the scoring in the 74th minute and Iranian international defender Bengar Mohsen added the second a minute later.

    The last match of the day's entertainment saw Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab go top by a point from Pakhtakor after they prevailed 3-2 at home to the winners of the inaugural AFC Champions League Al Ain.

    Amado Da Silva scored twice - once to give the hosts a 1-0 lead after 12 minutes and then to bring them level at 2-2 in the second-half - before midfielder Marcel Camacho grabbed all three points with seven minutes remaining.



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