Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

AFC Champions League: champion Steelers defeated Down Under – Matchday 1 Review

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on February 24, 2010
AFC Champions League trophy

Pohang Steelers won the AFC Champions League in 2009 but suffered defeat at Adelaide United on Matchday 1

The AFC Champions League, Asia’s top club tournament, kicked off on Tuesday with eight matches and concluded its opening set of games with eight more today. The big result on Matchday 1 occurred in Group H where Adelaide United defeated the defending champions Pohang Steelers 1-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Pohang, who finished third in the FIFA Club World Cup in December, had the better of the opening exchanges with Alexandro and Mota missing good chances for the Steelers. Just as the half-time break was imminent Adelaide got the break they were looking for. After a Steelers corner was cleared United’s Mathew Leckie went on a solo run covering half the pitch. When the oncoming Steelers defender Park Hee-Chul attempted to clear the ball eight yeards from goal the ball cannoned in back off Leckie to give United the lead. After the break both teams had their spells in the attack, Adelaide started the second half the stronger but allowed the champions to attack them towards the end of the game. The Australians’ stubborn rearguard held out for a famous win and can now go into the rerst of the campaign with confidence. The other game in their group saw China’s Shandong Luneng go to Japanese side Sanfreece Hiroshima and claim all three points with a surprise late goal in the 77th minute from Han Peng.

Luis Felipe Scolari enjoyed an easy opening day win for his Bunyodkor side, the Uzbek champions easily dispatching Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad 3-0 in Group B with former Brazilian FIFA World Cup winner Rivaldo among the scorers. Iranians Zobahan sealed a 1-0 win over UAE’s Al Wahda, who qualified for the group stage via a play-off, thanks to an Igor Castro goal on the hour mark. Group A saw Iranian giants Esteghlal open with a 2-1 away victory in Jeddah against Al Ahli thanks to a brace from captain Farhad Majidi whilst Qatari side Al Gheraba also secured three points with a 2-1 win away at UAE’s Al Jazira, for whom former Real Betis star Rafael Sóbis scored a consolation goal.

Whereas Adelaide United did the business for Australian football their compatriots Melbourne Victory were unable to follow suit as they went down 1-0 to Chinese champions Beijing Guoan in Group E. Ironically it was an Australian player, Joel Griffiths, that sealed the deal for Beijing. Alejandro Molina and Dženan Radončić scored a goal apiece to secure an opening day 2-0 triumph for Korean side Seongham Ilhwa against Japanese outfit Kawasaki Frontale. Group F saw Japanese champions Kashima Antlers win a hard-fought contest at home 1-0 against China’s Changchun Yatai but for Indonesian side Persipura Jayapura it was nothing but misery as Korean side Jeonbuk Motors secured an easy 4-1 scoreline with Krunoslav Lovrek scoring a hat trick.

Both Group G matches, that were played on Wednesday, had a disappointing outcome. Koreans Suwon Samsung played against Japan’s Gamba Osaka in what was a highly anticipated match but which, sadly for the neutral, finished goalless as did the other match between China’s Henan Jianye and Singapore Armed Forces FC, who had squeaked through to the group stage on penalties in their play-off final against Thailand’s Muangthong United. Group D, in contrast, got off to a goal-laden start with Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, under new coach Eric Gerets, putting Qatari team Al Saad to the sword with a 3-0 rout while Iran’s Sanat Mes Kerman FC were involving in a roller-coaster of a match against UAE champions Al Ahli. The Dubai based team were 2-1 up with fifteen minutes to go but a brace from Mehdi Rajabzadeh and a goal from Ali Samereh in the last minute gave Sanat a 4-2 win. Finally in Group C Pakhtakor Tashkent, the second Uzbek side in the competition, won away at Al Ain thanks to a 60th minute strike from Artur Gevorkyan whilst Iranian side Sepahan FC were unable to match all their compatriot clubs by winning but were able to muster a draw out of an away tie against Al-Shabab from Saudi Arabia.

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