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Adelaide, Tokyo, Al Ittihad reach last 16 of ACL

Associated Press Modified: May 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm •  Published: May 2, 2012
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ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Adelaide United, Tokyo and Ulsan Hyundai reached the last 16 of the Asian Champions League on Wednesday, while 2008 winner Gamba Osaka, Brisbane Roar and Beijing Guoan dropped out of contention.

Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia also advanced after a 2-1 victory over 10-man Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan, and Iran's Esteghlal is in a strong position to go through following a 3-0 win against Al Rayyan of Qatar.

Adelaide United was held to a scoreless draw at home by Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor but that was enough to guarantee the Australian club a spot in the knockout stages.

Bunyodkor will need to win its last game at home against Pohang Steelers to progress from Group E. The Korean club beat Gamba 2-0 to move up to second place.

In Group F, Tokyo beat Brisbane United 4-2 while Ulsan Hyundai won 3-2 at Beijing Guoan, eliminating the losers with a game to spare.

In Adelaide, a game where both teams were going to be reasonably satisfied with a draw made for mostly unadventurous football.

"We have confirmed our spot now in the second round," United acting coach Luciano Trani said. "The objective was pretty much achieved tonight, so that is a good thing."

Pohang Steelers prevailed over Gamba in a match between former champions. Zoran Rendulic failed to convert a first-half penalty for Pohang, but the hosts still went to halftime ahead thanks to a goal by on-loan striker Kim Jin-yong.

Derek Asamoah, who spent many years in the lower tiers of English football, scored the second goal in the 77th minute to seal the victory.

Brisbane needed to beat Tokyo by at least a two-goal margin to stay alive in the competition, and began promisingly when Albanian striker Besart Berisha netted in the fourth minute of a game played in at-times heavy rain.

But Tokyo equalized straight from the ensuing kickoff through Hideto Takhashi, and went up 2-1 in the 20th thanks to a Kenta Mukuhara goal.

Thomas Broich equalized in the 33rd for Brisbane, which was playing its first game under Rado Vidosic following the departure of successful head coach Ang Postecoglou to Australian rival Melbourne Victory.

Kazuma Watanabe's penalty just before halftime put Tokyo back in front and when he scored his second in the 60th minute, Brisbane's campaign was effectively ended.

In Beijing, the hosts needed to beat Ulsan to stay alive but trailed 2-0 after just 20 minutes. Go Seul-ki put the Koreans ahead in the 17th and Kim Seung-yong doubled the lead in the 20th.

Zhang Xizhe raised Guoan's hopes of a comeback when he netted inside two minutes of the second half, but as they pushed for an equalizer, Brazilian Maranhao scored Ulsan's third in the 79th. Shao Jiayi's stoppage-time goal was only a small consolation.

In Tashkent, Mohammed Abusabaan headed in a winner deep into stoppage time for Al Ittihad in Group B.

Pakhtakor played the final 20 minutes at Jar Stadium a man down after Egor Krimets was sent off. But the Uzbek side appeared to have escaped with a draw until Abusabaan rose above the defense to meet Hosni Abdrabou's free kick.

Naif Hazazi had earlier given the visitors a 59th-minute lead, but Irakli Klimiashvili leveled the score with a long-range strike 10 minutes later.

"We were lucky that we scored with our final chance of the game," Al Ittihad coach Raul Caneda said. "But I do think that the sending off was a clear red card because their defender was the last man and Naif Hazazi would have had a clear goal-scoring opportunity if he had not been fouled."

Baniyas of the United Arab Emirates bolstered its chances of claiming second spot in Group B with a 4-0 win over Al Arabi of Qatar. Fawzi Basheer scored in the 17th minute and Francisco Yeste doubled the lead in the 40th. Nawaf Mubarak and Andre Senghor added second-half goals.

In Tehran, Arash Borhani scored twice and Ismaeil Sharifad added a third to give Esteghlal victory in Group A.

Bohrani put Esteghlal ahead in the 23rd minute from the penalty spot. Teammate Ismaeil Sharifat scored from close range in the 76th. Borhani sealed Esteghlal's victory in injury time, sending 60,000 fans to their feet at Tehran's Azadi stadium.

The UAE's Al Jazira, which had already qualified for the knockout stage in Group A, defeated Nasaf of Uzbekistan 4-1 with Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira scoring a hat trick.


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