AFC Champions League 2017: Lekhwiya qualify from Group B; Guangzhou put six past Eastern

Matchday five in the AFC Champions League 2017 is in full swing with as many as eight games taking place all across the continent on Tuesday. Here we bring you the recap from all eight matches: 

GROUP A: 

ESTEGHLAL 1-1 AL AHLI (UAE) [Rezaei 58' - Sanqour 17'] 

Esteghlal vs Al Ahli

Iran's Esteghlal and UAE's Al Ahli played out a 1-1 draw on Tuesday in Tehran in a Group A encounter which helped both clubs take one step closer to the knockout stages. 

It was the visitors from UAE who took the lead in the game, with Abdulaziz Sanqour guiding the ball into the net after striker Ahmed Khalil found him unmarked with an intelligent header in the 17th minute. Esteghlal almost equalised at the half-hour mark but Majed Naser in the Al Ahli goal pulled off a brilliant save. Esteghlal's pressure finally got its reward in the 58th minute when Khosro Heydari was released and his lobbed cross was headed in by Kaveh Rezaei. 

Both teams failed to manufacture a winner and now lie on eight points with one Group A game remaining - three points clear of both Saudi Arabia’s Al Taawoun and Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv.

LOKOMOTIV 4-4 AL TAAWOUN [Bikmaev 21', 32', 47' Masharipov 81' - Al-Swat 18' Al-Hussain 65' N'Diaye 69' Machado 90+1'] 

Uzbekistan's Lokomotiv Tashkent and Saudi Arabia's Al Taawoun ended up playing out a thrilling 4-4 draw on Tuesday, which saw a hat-trick from Lokomotiv striker Marat Bikmaev and an injury time equaliser from Ricardo Machado who missed a penalty as well. 

It was the visitors Al Taawoun who started well and took the lead in the 18th minute through Abdulmajeed Al Suwat who received the ball in his own half and dribbled past five defenders and finished from inside the Lokomotiv box. But the home side hit back in sensational fashion as Marat Bikmaev headed the ball home from Jaloliddin Masharipov’s pinpoint corner three minutes later before adding another in the 32nd minute from the penalty spot. Al Taawoun defender Richardo Machado, meanwhile, missed a penalty awarded for the Saudi Arabian side. Two minutes after the break, Bikmaev made it 3-1 after his attempted volley from a low cross could not be stopped by Fahad Al Shammari. 

The match then took a turn for the dramatic as Al Taawoun wiped away the deficit with two quick goals before the 70th minute, Jehad Al Hussain capitalising on a loose ball inside the box and Alassane N’Diaye turning the ball in with his knee after the goalkeeper was caught off his line. However, Lokomotiv seemed to have won the game when Masharipov went on a brilliant run from the left wing, cut in and found the near corner of the net. But Al Taawoun's Portuguese defender Machado made up for his earlier error by heading home a late freekick. 

The result keeps the qualifying hopes of both teams alive. 

ACL 2017: Al Ain and Al Hilal seal qualification

GROUP B: 

AL JAZIRA 1-3 LEKHWIYA SC [Boussoufa 17' - Tae-hee 27', 62' Msakni 77'] 

Nam Tae-hee's brace helped Qatar's Lekhwiya SC defeat Al Jazira 3-1 away and secure the top spot in Group B and secure qualification to the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League on Tuesday. 

It was home team who took the early on through an Mbark Boussoufa penalty before Korean international Nam Tae-hee equalised with a penalty of his own. The Korean attacking midfielder was in scintillating form and pulled Lekhwiya ahead in the 62nd minute by getting on the end of Youssef Msakni's lofted ball into the box and slipping a finish past the goalkeeper. Five minutes later, Al Jazira were dealt another blow when Fares Juma was given a straight red card. 

Msakni would then go on to apply the finishing touches by finding the back of the net with a smart finish from inside the area as Lekhwiya made sure of their progression in style. They now have 11 points from five games and second-placed Esteghlal Khouzestan won't be able to catch them. 

AL FATEH 1-1 ESTEGHLAL KHOUZESTAN [Al-Zaqan 85' - Bahrani 90+1']

Al Fateh vs Esteghlal Khouzestan

Al Fateh and Esteghlal Khouzestan played out a 1-1 draw in Doha on Tuesday with Al Fateh spurning a chance to leapfrog their Iranian opponents in the Group table. 

After most of the game seemed to pass on incident-free, the 85th minute saw it come alive. Al Fateh substitute Ali Al Zaqan looked like he won the game for his team after lifting a neat finish over the goalkeeper after latching on to Nouh Al-Mousa's delicious through-ball. However, their joy was short-lived in the stoppage time when Salman Bahrani came up with an acrobatic finish to a flicked header to help Esteghlal Khouzestan salvage a point from the tie. 

The draw keeps Esteghlal Khouzestan in second place with eight points while Al Fateh have six points. Both the clubs will fight it out for the final spot from the group after Lekhwiya SC ensured their qualification. 

 

GROUP G:

SUWON BLUEWINGS 0-1 KAWASAKI FRONTALE [Nara 48']

Suwon Bluewings vs Kawasaki Frontale

Kawasaki Frontale won their first AFC Champions League game of the season, after four consecutive draws, by edging out Suwon Bluewings 1-0 in South Korea on Tuesday. Importantly, the victory complicated proceedings atop Group G.

It was the away side who dominated proceedings at the Suwon World Cup Stadium, enjoying a greater share of possession. But Suwon had the best of chances with Park Gi-dong and Ko Seung-beom both wasting good opportunities. However, three minutes after the break, the Japanese side found a goal with Tatsuki Nara leaping high to meet Kengo Nakamura’s deep free-kick and direct a strong header into the net. 

That goal proved to be enough for Kawasaki Frontale who are now third in the group with seven points while Suwon are second with eight points from five games each. 

EASTERN SC 0-6 GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE [Paulinho 8', 82' Mitchell (OG) 39' Alan 50', 71' Hanchao 90+1']

Eastern SC vs Guangzhou Evergrande

Minnows Eastern SC were given another hiding by Guangzhou Evergrande as the Chinese side romped to a 6-0 triumph on Tuesday, which has seen them regain the top spot in the group. 

Eastern were beaten 7-0 by the same opponents in the first round and the tidings for the team from Hong Kong were not great as Paulinho arrived late in the box to direct a header in from a cross from the right wing. Eastern SC defender Josh Mitchell then directed a cross past his own keeper to double Guangzhou's advantage in the 39th minute and striker Alan made it 3-0 for Guangzhou five minutes past the break. He proceeded to complete his brace in the 71st minute by tapping in Liao Lisheng's cutback from the right byline. 

Paulinho then helped himself to another goal by reacting first to a parry from the Eastern goalkeeper while Yu Hanchao scored with a 90th-minute free-kick to put the seal on the win for Guangzhou. The result sees Guangzhou sit atop Group G with nine points from five games while Eastern have just the single point to show for their efforts in the tournament so far. 

 

GROUP H: 

GAMBA OSAKA 3-3 ADELAIDE UTD [Nagasawa 6' Doan 12' Marrone (OG) 77' - Cirio 43' O'Doherty 54' Diawara 90+1'] 

Gamba Osaka vs Adelaide United

A late equaliser from Baba Diawara kept Adelaide United's hopes of qualifying from Group H alive after a pulsating 3-3 draw away to Gamba Osaka on Tuesday. The shared points meant Adelaide are now third with five points while Gamba are a point behind. 

Gamba Osaka were all over Adelaide at the Suita City football stadium at the start, racing to a 2-0 lead inside 12 minutes. Forward Shun Nagasawa headed home at the near post from Yasuhito Endo’s corner in the sixth minute before a stunning strike from the left wing, almost 30 yards out, by their young prodigy Ristu Doan left Adelaide United stunned. But the A-League outfit grew into the game and pulled one back just before half-time when Diawara capitalised on a slip by Kim Jung-ya and squared the ball for Sergio Cirio to slot in. 

Nine minutes after the break, Jordan O’Doherty rifled in a fantastic strike from outside the area to level the scores. However, drama followed as Yasuhito Endo spurned a chance to score from the penalty spot before Adelaide defender Michael Marrone deflected the ball into his own net while trying to clear a low cross from Oh Jae-suk in the 77th minute. While it looked like Gamba had done enough to gain all three points, Diawara came up with a glancing header from Ben Garuccio’s free kick in the 91st minute to level things up and give Adelaide a glimmer of hope. 

JIANGSU FC 1-2 JEJU UNITED [Ramires 27' - Cruz 34' Chang-Min 48'] 

Korean side Jeju United boosted their chances of progressing as runners-up in Group H with a 2-1 win over already-qualified Jiangsu Suning FC on Tuesday.

It was Jiangsu who opened the scoring with captain Ramires popping up with a goal in the 27th minute. He headed home Alex Teixeira's corner emphatically to give Jiangsu the lead before they were pegged back in the 34th minute. Jeju forward Magno Cruz got on the end of a fine through ball from Jin Sung-wook and lifted a neat finish over the advancing goalkeeper. Post the half-time break, Jeju United surged into the lead in some style as Lee Chang-min found the far corner from 25 yards out after smart work from Cruz. 

The South Koreans held on to a vital result which sees them go two points clear in the race for the second spot in the group. 

 

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