Sextet advance with ease
The Round of 16 line-up is nearly half-complete with six sides joining the already-qualified Al Jazira in the knockout stage after matchday 5, leaving the remaining nine spots to be decided as the group campaign goes down to the wire in a fortnight's time.
It was an impressive round for Saudi representatives with both Al Ittihad and Al Ahli progressing with victories, while a solitary-goal win at Persepolis moved Al Hilal to the verge of qualification. FC Tokyo became the edition's first debutants to make it through, while Adelaide United are the only Australian side to book a place in the next stage. Elsewhere, Iran’s Sepahan and Korea Republic’s Ulsan Hyundai also completed their qualifying missions in style. Join FIFA.com as we relive some of the highlights across the continent.
Pakhtakor 1-2 Al Ittihad
The top-of-the-standing Group B contest ended in the hosts' favour, with Al Ittihad edging ten-man Pakhtakor 2-1 to maintain their undefeated campaign. Saudi international striker Naif Hazazi scored his fourth goal in the tournament as he put the home side ahead on the hour but Irakli Klimiashvili's long-range effort drew the visitors level only ten minutes later.
Egor Krimets was red-carded shortly afterwards for tripping Hazazi but despite playing one man short, the Uzbeks defended gallantly. Just as they looked on course to secure a point, Mohammed Abusabaan headed home the match-winner deep into stoppage time. The result, allied with Bani Yas' 4-0 win at Al Arabi, saw the Jeddah giants not only seal qualification but also win the section, earning the right to play on home soil against the Group D's runners-up in the Round of 16.
Guangzhou Evergrande 1-3 Jeonbuk Motors
Though winning the opening encounter 5-1, China PR’s Guangzhou Evergrande were this time on the receiving end of a shock 3-1 home loss. Argentinian Dario Conca opened the scoring for Guangzhou after ten minutes with a penalty but having weathered the storm early on, the Korean champions drew level with Lee Sung-Hyun scoring the equaliser just before the break.
Guangzhou heaped pressure on Jeonbuk after the interval, pinning the visitors to their own third but still failing to carve out a clear-cut chance. Despite Cho Sung-Hwan's dismissal on 65 minutes, the experienced Koreans tightened their rearguard with nearly the entire team behind the ball as they kept the home side at bay. Playing with increasing anxiety, Guangzhou's world suddenly caved in when Lee Dong-Gook scored in stoppage time, before wrapping up the comeback win with a spot-kick. The result moved Jeonbuk to the section summit with a two point lead over Guangzhou and Kashiwa Reysol, who re-ignited their hopes with a 1-0 home defeat of Buriram United.
The other attractions
Ricardo Oliveira netted a hat-trick as Al Jazira dismantled bottom side Nasaf 4-1 at home to seal Group A's top place with a game to spare. In the other game, Iranian international Arash Borhani completed a brace, and Sharifat Esmaeil was also on target, as Esteghlal saw off Al Rayyan 3-0 to gain the upper hand in the race for second.
In Group C, joint leaders Al Ahli and Sepahan each recorded a 3-0 victory to make it through. Despite the identical scoreline, the two games were vastly contrasting affairs, with the former enjoying a comfortable defeat of Lekhwiya at home, while the latter emerged victorious against Al Nasr in a controversy-filled contest. Bruno Correa put the Iranian visitors side ahead just before half-time but there were unexpected moments early in the second half which saw hosts goalkeeper Abdulla Moosa sent off and each team miss a penalty. Capitalising on the numerical advantage, Sepahan cruised to victory courtesy of goals from Xhevahir Sukaj and Mehdi Seyed-Salehi.
Needing just a point to go through, Group D’s Persepolis went down 1-0 at home against Al Hilal, who leapfrogged the Iranian heavyweights to top spot courtesy of the only goal scored by their Moroccan striker Youssef El Arabi. The section's other match saw Al Gharafa came from behind to edge Al Shabab 2-1 as the Qatari giants salvaged some pride.
2008 winners Gamba Osaka and runners-up Adelaide endured contrasting fortunes in Group E, with the Japanese side condemned to an early elimination following a 2-0 loss at Pohang Steelers. The Australian hopefuls advanced to the last 16 despite being held to a goalless draw at home by Bunyodkor. The results saw Pohang lead the Uzbeks by two points, with a draw in the closing game enough to secure the remaining spot.
First-timers FC Tokyo from Group F sailed through in triumphant fashion after dispatching newly-crowned Australian champions Brisbane Roar in a 4-2 thriller. As if not to be outdone, Ulsan Hyundai sealed second qualifying spot with a 3-2 victory at Beijing Guoan to remain level with the Japanese leaders on 11 points.
In Group G, Nagoya Grampus escaped defeat at Seongnam Ilhwa with Park Jin-Po's late own goal securing them an away point. The result leaves the two sides level on seven points at the top a point clear of Central Coast Mariners, who saw their hopes rejuvenated with a 5-1 home drubbing of Tianjin Teda.
Having scored three times which helped Al Jazira to seal qualification with two games to spare, Brazilian Ricardo Oliveira continued his prolific form completing a first-half hat-trick to top the tournament scoring chart.
36 - The number of goals scored over the matchday at an average of 2.3 goals per match.
What they said
"Our target now is to go as far as we can and maybe we can even win this tournament. Being the coach of Al Ittihad is not easy because the team have a good history in this competition and you have a responsibility because your team must win and play well,” Al Ittihad coach Raul Caneda
AFC Champions League Matchday 5 fixtures
Group A: Al Jazira 4-1 Nasaf, Esteghlal 3-0 Al Rayyan
Group B: Al Arabi 0-4 Bani Yas, Pakhtakor 1-2 Al Ittihad
Group C: Al Ahli 3-0 Lekhwiya, Al Nasr 0-3 Sepahan
Group D: Persepolis 0-1 Al Hilal, Al Gharafa 2-1 Al Shabab
Group E: Adelaide United 0-0 Bunyodkor, Pohang Steelers 2-0 Gamba Osaka
Group F: FC Tokyo 4-2 Brisbane Roar, Beijing Guoan 2-3 Ulsan Hyundai
Group G: Seongnam Ilhwa 1-1 Nagoya Grampus, Central Coast Mariners 5-1 Tianjin Teda
Group H: Guangzhou Evergrande 1-3 Jeonbuk Motors, Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 Buriram United
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