Melbourne upsets Guangzhou; Al Ain advances in ACL
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Al Ain became the first team to secure a second-round spot in the Asian Champions League with a 5-0 win over Lekhwiya of Qatar on Tuesday, while Melbourne Victory created a gridlock in Group G with a 2-0 upset win over defending champion Guangzhou Evergrande.
Asamoah Gyan scored twice and set up goals for Ibrahim Diaky, Alex Brosque and Mohamed Abdulrahman to help Al Ain, winners of the inaugural title in 2003, to its first away group stage win since 2006 in the continental club championship.
The Ghana striker played a leading role in Al Ain’s first three goals before scoring himself with a solo effort in the 70th minute and adding another in stoppage time – giving him a tournament-leading seven goals this season.
At Melbourne, Mark Milligan scored in the second minute and, after some poor finishing from both teams, James Troisi sealed the win in stoppage time. Goalkeeper Nathan Coe maintained Melbourne’s buffer with some outstanding saves against Marcello Lippi’s Chinese Super League champions. That win and Yokohama’s 2-1 win over Jeonbuk Motors left all four teams in Group G on seven points with a game to play.
Lippi blamed ”many, many mistakes” in Evergrande’s defense but remained optimistic about advancing.
”We still have a chance to continue the Champions League adventure if we win at home,” he said through a translator.
Manabu Saito scored twice in two minutes in Yokohama’s 2-1 comeback win, netting the equalizer with a long-range strike in the 64th and the winner from close range in the 65th.
Western Sydney Wanderers replaced Ulsan Hyundai atop the Group H standings after a 2-0 away win in South Korea, and J-League champion Kawasaki Frontlane joined the Australian club on nine points after captain Kengo Nakamura’s 37th-minute strike secured a 1-0 victory over China’s Guizhou Renhe, which finished with nine men after the dismissals of captain Sun Jihai and Zvjezdan Misimovic.
In Group D, Iranian club Sepahan kept its chances of progressing alive with a 4-0 win over Qatar’s Al Sadd.
Mehdi Sharifi scored early in the second half and doubled the lead in the 55th.
Substitute Xhevahir Sukaj found the back of the net in the 63rd as defender Ibrahim Majed’s own goal in the stoppage time completed a convincing victory for the home team.
A 0-0 draw between Emirati side Al Ahli and Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia in Dubai kept both teams in the hunt for knockout stage.
Sepahan and Al Ahli lead the group on seven points, one clear of Al Hilal and two ahead of Al Sadd, leaving the group delicately poised ahead of next week’s last preliminary matches.