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.