Pohang Steelers get back on track as Gamba Osaka struggle in Asian Champions League.
|Frontale assault: Renatinho fires home Kawasaki’s second [AFP]|
Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale rubbed salt into Melbourne Victory’s wounds in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday while Korea’s Seongnam Ilhwa came from a goal down to beat Beijing Guoan.
Melbourne went into Tuesday’s Group E game demoralised after their agonising 4-2 penalty shootout defeat to Sydney FC in the A-League grand final on Saturday, and they were never in the hunt.
The J-Leaguers romped to a 4-0 win despite having their North Korean striker Chong Tese sent off at the end of the first half for an ugly challenge, with three goals in the opening 22 minutes doing the damage.
Chong gave the home team a dream start when he ran on to Renatinho’s through ball and beat Melbourne goalkeeper Glen Moss after just three minutes.
Masaru Kurotsu made it 2-0 nine minutes later with a powerful header, then Renatinho lashed home a third from the edge of the area.
Hiroyuki Taniguchi sealed a crucial three points in the dying minutes before Melbourne had Leigh Broxham red-carded in injury time to end a dismal evening.
The win was Kawasaki’s first in their three Champions League games and kept them in the race for a place in the last 16.
Beijing lose it
Seongnam remain top of the group after a dramatic 3-1 victory over Beijing.
The Chinese champions were heading for glory thanks to a first-half strike from former Scotland international Maurice Ross but they lost their focus and conceded three goals in the final 12 minutes.
Song Ho-Young came off the bench to give Seongnam Ilhwa the equaliser after picking up a pass from Colombian Mauricio Molina and firing the ball past the diving Yang Zhi.
Song was involved in the second, bursting free down the right and whipping in a low cross with Dzenan Radoncic tapping in from close range.
There was more drama in stoppage-time when Yang was sent off for pulling down Molina on the edge of the area and Jo Jae-Chol smashed the ball home from the resulting free-kick.
In Group G, Japanese powerhouse Gamba Osaka beat a plucky Singapore Armed Forces 4-2, with Shoki Hirai bagging a hat-trick.
Tuesday March 23
Hirai put the visitors in front after six minutes before Erwan Gunawan pulled one back.
They went into the break level-pegging before Hirai pounced again a minute after the restart. Niklas Sandberg pulled one back before Sota Nakazawa and Hirai put the game beyond reach.
Korea’s Suwon Bluewings stayed top of the group with a 2-0 win over China’s Henan Jianye with two second-half goals from Jose Roberto Mota keeping their unbeaten streak intact.
Elsewhere, two-time semi-finalists Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan bounced back from their loss to Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab two weeks ago by beating 2007 finalists Sepahan 2-1 in Tashkent.
Artur Gevorkyan and Alexander Geynrikh got on the scoresheet for the hosts while Ahmad Jamshidian found the net for Sepahan.
Al Ain, winners of the inaugural AFC Champions League, beat Al Shabab 2-1 in the other Group C game.
Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli, meanwhile, beat Al Jazira of the UAE 5-1 in Group A to recover after back-to-back defeats in their opening two games left them in danger of crashing out of the tournament.
Qatar’s Al Gharafa were leading the group with six points but lost 3-0 to Esteghlal of Iran, who are unbeaten and now top the table on seven.