Frontale stays in last-16 hunt

Kawasaki Frontale secured a crucial 3-0 victory over Group E leader Seongnam Ilhwa at Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium to keep it in the hunt for a place in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League.

Kawasaki Frontale secured a crucial 3-0 victory over Group E leader Seongnam Ilhwa at Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium to keep it in the hunt for a place in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League.

The Japanese side needed to win to avoid seeing its continental campaign brought to an end and it made the ideal start as Hiroyuki Taniguchi opened the scoring after just four minutes, smashing home a first-time shot from Renatinho’s pass.

Kawasaki was cruising after that goal and added a second in the 21st minute when Takanobu Komiyama was fouled and Yusuke Tasaka scored from the resulting free kick.

Seongnam had rarely threatened to pull a goal back but gave its host a scare in the 27th minute when Brazilian midfielder Fabricio hit the bar from a free kick.

But Kawasaki made the win safe in the 69th minute when Kengo Nakamura was fouled inside the area and Renatinho scored from the penalty spot.

The win means Kawasaki has six points and trails Beijing Guoan by one with the two sides to meet in a crunch final group match later this month.

Also in Group E, Melbourne Victory’s own qualification hopes were ended as they were held to a goalless draw by Beijing Guoan at Docklands Stadium.

There were few chances for either side throughout the match although the visitors enjoyed the majority of the possession.

Australian Joel Griffiths was a menace to the Victory defence throughout and should have scored on the hour mark but headed wide when unmarked.

Substitute Marvin Angulo had perhaps the best chance for the hosts with 14 minutes remaining but his long-range effort was well-saved by Yang Zhi.

In Group F, J. League champion Kashima Antlers maintained a 100 percent record in the AFC after beating China’s Changchun Yatai 1-0 at Changchun Jingkai Stadium.

Shinzo Koroki pounced on a mistake by full-back Jorge Caballero eight minutes before half-time to beat home goalkeeper Mi Tianhe and secure Kashima a fifth win of the campaign against an understrength Changchun which was already out of contention.

With Jeonbuk Motors demolishing whipping boys Persipura Jayapura of Indonesia 8-0, Kashima needs just a point at home to the K-League champions in two weeks to secure top spot in the group and home advantage in the one-off last 16.

At a wet and snowy Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Sim Woo-yeon scored a hat-trick as Jeonbuk kept its hopes of top spot alive and now must better the 2-1 victory Kashima posted in Korea at the start of March.

Brazilian Eninho set Jeonbuk on its way after 13 minutes following a long-range strike before Sim turned home Lee Dong-gook’s pass 18 minutes later to double the scoring.

Former Middlesbrough striker Lee added a third from the penalty spot five minutes before half-time after captain Kim Sang-sik was fouled inside the area.

Eninho grabbed his second three minutes before the hour mark after turning home an inviting pass from half-time substitute Luiz Henrique before Seo Jung-jin added a fifth three minutes later.

Sim headed home after 79 minutes as the visitors continued to crumble and after substitute Lim Sang-hyub produced a cool finish a minute later, Sim completed his hat-trick with five minutes remaining as Persipura conceded their 29th goal in five defeats.

In Group A, Esteghlal and Al Gharafa both qualified for the knockout phase following wins over Al Ahli and Al Jazira respectively.

Esteghlal edged out Al Ahli 2-1 in Tehran, while Clemerson’s hat-trick saw Al Gharafa outclass its UAE rival 4-2 in Doha to sew up the top two spots with one game remaining.

And in Group B, Bunyodkor kept its hopes of reaching the last 16 alive after Anvarjon Soliev’s second-half goal salvaged a 1-1 draw at Al Ittihad.

Defeat at Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium would have seen an end to Luis Felipe Scolari’s side’s continental adventure and it fell behind in the 38th minute when Joao Victor brought down Abdelmalek Ziaya in the box and Mohammed Noor sent keeper Ignatiy Nesterov the wrong way from the spot.

Bunyodkor levelled in the 62nd minute as Server Djeparov picked out Denilson unmarked in the box with an exquisite crossfield pass and although the Brazilian badly scuffed his shot Soliev – who had only been on the pitch for around a minute – was fortunately on hand at the back post to sidefoot home.

Leader Zob Ahan suffered a shock defeat as Hassan Amin’s 71st-minute goal saw Al Wahda pick up its first points of the campaign.

Amin struck the winner at Al Nahyan Stadium when he embarked on a run from inside his own half before beating Abbas Ghasem from distance. Al Wahda also hit the post three times as it inflicted the Iranians’ first defeat in the Asian Champions League.

The results means Zob Ahan, Al Ittihad and Bunyodkor can all progress to the knockout stage ahead of the final round of matches in two weeks’ time. Al Wahda had already been eliminated.