Griffiths fires Beijing through

Chinese champions Beijing Guoan beat Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale 2-0 at Beijing Workers’ Stadium to book its spot in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League.

Chinese champions Beijing Guoan beat Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale 2-0 at Beijing Workers’ Stadium to book its spot in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League.

After surviving an early onslaught from the visitors who needed a win to advance at the expense of Beijing, Australian striker Joel Griffiths broke the deadlock 10 minutes before half-time before Brazilian strike partner Erivaldo sealed the win at the start of the second half.

With Korea’s Seongnam Ilhwa already assured of qualification as Group E winners, Beijing secured second place to earn a daunting trip to face K-League champions and Group G winners Suwon Bluewings in the one-off last 16 in two weeks.

Three-time J.League champions Kashima Antlers marched ominously into the last 16 with a 100 percent record after downing Korean counterparts Jeonbuk Motors 2-1 in Group F.

Korea Republic defender Lee Jung-soo and Takuya Nozawa scored the goals in two minutes midway through the first half at a sodden Kashima Soccer Stadium as the Antlers secured top spot and a home last-16 tie against defending champions Pohang Steelers in two weeks.

Jeonbuk had also already assured qualification but failed to find the win it needed, with a strike from Jin Kyung-sun with 13 minutes remaining proving only consolation to leave the K-League champions with a trip to Australia to face Adelaide United next month.

After the home side had made the attacking start which was promised by manager Oswaldo Oliveira, Kashima opened the scoring after 20 minutes as Lee headed home Nozawa’s corner.

And two minutes later Nozawa’s fine volley doubled the advantage to put the home side into a commanding position.

Jeonbuk improved either side of half-time but had to wait until the 77th minute for Jin to find a breakthrough.

And the visitors almost set up a tense finale three minutes later but Lim You-hwan headed wide.

With the two qualification places already decided, Indonesia’s Persipura Jayapura ended a difficult campaign with a surprise 2-0 win over Changchun Yatai at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.

Changchun had beaten Persipura 9-0 earlier in the campaign, but home goalkeeper Jandri Pitoy saved two penalties either side of goals from captain Eduard Ivakdalam and Tinus Pae.

Al Gharafa snatched top spot in Group A after recording a last-gasp 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli to capitalise on Esteghlal’s surprise defeat by already-eliminated Al Jazira.

After previously winless Al Jazira earlier downed the Iranians 2-1, Al Gharafa needed to win to leap to the top of the group and claim home advantage in the one-off last 16 tie.

But despite Al Ahli also being unable to advance, the home side had Al Gharafa on the back foot for 90 minutes at Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium in Jeddah.

But in stoppage time substitute Nasser Kamil, who only came on with nine minutes remaining, arrived at the back post to head in to earn Al Gharafa a home tie with Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan.

Earlier at Mohamed Bin Zayid Stadium, Esteghlal knew a win would make sure of first place but saw its unbeaten record ended.

The visitors had taken the lead seven minutes before the break as Hossein Kazemi picked out Farhad Majidi at the back post to open the scoring.

But six minutes after half-time Saleh Bashir tapped home from close range after Esteghlal goalkeeper Khosro Heydari could only parry Abdulla Qasem’s shot.

And three minutes later Tariq Ahmed left Heydari rooted to the spot with a super strike to hand Al Jazira a first win of the campaign and leave Esteghlal with a trip to Saudi Arabia to face Group C winners Al Shabab.

Zobahan set up an all-Iranian meeting with Mes Kerman in the last 16 after ending the hopes of last year’s finalists Al Ittihad with a 1-0 win.

Mohammad Khalatbari pounced on a defensive error just before the hour mark as Zobahan denied Al Ittihad the win it needed to advance.

Zobahan’s fourth win of the campaign secured top spot in Group B and home advantage in the one-off last 16 match in two weeks’ time, while Luiz Felipe Scolari’s big-spending Uzbekistan champions Bunyodkor claimed second place with a 4-1 over Al Wahda of the United Arab Emirates.

Brazilian Denilson scored twice as Bunyodkor claimed a place in the last 16 with a comfortable victory over Al Wahda although Scolari’s side did have to wait for the result in Esfahan.

If Al Ittihad had picked up all three points, the Saudi side would have won the group and advanced along with Zobahan with the Iranians holding the head-to-head advantage over Bunyodkor.

Needing to win to keep its hopes alive, Rivaldo opened the scoring after 28 minutes at JAR Stadium.

Compatriot Denilson doubled the lead three minutes later following a goalkeeping error before the former Pohang Steelers man added a third.

Azizbek Haydarov made sure of all three points with a superb long range strike before Al Wahda claimed a stoppage-time consolation as Talal Abdulla converted from the penalty spot.

After securing second place Bunyodkor face a daunting trip to Saudi Arabia to face Group D winners Al Hilal.