Weekly Stats Wrap
Kuala Lumpur: After another week full of thrills and spills in the AFC Champions League, the-AFC.com pinpoints the stats and facts that caught the eye in an action-packed round of fixtures.
Ricardo Goulart, Oscar and Morteza Tabrizi were all among the headline grabbers on Matchday Three, and they are just three of the big names to be found in the latest edition of the 'Weekly Stats Wrap'.
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The 2015 AFC Champions League MVP Ricardo Goulart had a game to remember on Tuesday as the Brazilian scored four second-half goals to help Guangzhou Evergrande come from two goals down to defeat Jeju United 5-3.
Incredibly, the four goals came from just five attempts as the striker posted a highly impressive shooting accuracy of 80 percent. Goulart put the icing on the cake with an exquisite chip in added time as Guangzhou claimed their first win of the campaign to move to the top of Group G.
Another Brazilian, Oscar, also enjoyed a fine night on Wednesday, creating a tournament-high eight chances for his Shanghai SIPG teammates against Ulsan Hyundai. Frustratingly for the midfielder, none of them were converted as his side, unusually, dropped points at home in a 2-2 draw.
After failing to finish off his good work, Shanghai would end up grateful to Oscar after he took on the goal-scoring burden himself to net his second brace in as many games following two superb efforts from distance to keep his team two points clear at the top of the Group F standings.
Esteghlal defender Vouria Ghafouri had a busy night’s work in the 2-2 draw with Al Ain as the Iranian international won 19 duels and nine tackles, both of which were higher than any other player has recorded in the first three games of the group stage.
Draws at Al Ain and, previously, Al Rayyan are undoubtedly points won for Esteghlal as they return to Tehran as Group D leaders ahead of two games at Azadi Stadium. Solid away displays by the likes of Ghafouri could well prove invaluable in Estaghlal’s bid to make the next round.
No player was caught offside more times that Morteza Tabrizi, with the Zobahan striker being flagged up on five occasions in the home clash with Al Wahda in what was the joint highest weekly total seen to date in this year’s competition.
Having netted a double in his side’s 2-0 victory, to add to his goal against Lokomotiv last week, it is unlikely the forward will mind too much, particularly as his second goal came from springing the visitors’ offside trap before placing a somewhat fortuitous finish past goalkeeper Mohamed Al Shamsi.
The Green Machine
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors have burst back onto the AFC Champions League scene in style after their third successive win – a 6-3 victory over Tianjin Quanjin – put them in a position to advance to the last 16 after just three games.
Kim Shin-wook’s treble meant three Jeonbuk players are now on three goals, the other two being Lee Dong-gook and Adriano, while with 15 goals in just three matches, Jeonbuk are averaging five a game and are by some way the tournament’s top scorers.
Threat in the box
Youssef Msakini had more touches in the opposition box than any other player on the continent on Matchday Three as Al Duhail claimed a third successive win after seeing off Lokomotiv 3-2 at home, while the Tunisian’s total of 15 was also the highest number recorded so far this year.
The midfielder scored his side’s third and ultimately decisive goal with a beautiful dink over ‘keeper Ignatiy Nesterov from just inside the penalty area as the Qatari side moved within a victory of being the first team to progress to the knockout rounds.
In addition to the eight goals the fans inside Tianhe Stadium were treated to on Tuesday, the end-to-end clash between Guangzhou Evergrande and Jeju United saw the woodwork struck four times across the 90 minutes, more than in any other match in the 2018 campaign to date.
Yu Hanchao and Zhang Chenglin were desperately unlucky not to score in the first half for Guangzhou as the two-time champions went into the interval a goal down, before Ricardo Goulart’s superb four-goal haul ensured a memorable evening in southern China.
In 16 games across the continent in the past week, just one team managed to return home with an away victory under their belt as Kashima Antlers secured back-to-back victories outside of Japan after seeing off Sydney FC 2-0 in Australia.
Not only was that the fewest number of away wins seen over the three rounds of fixtures this year, it was also the fewest recorded in the group stage since 2014 when, also on Matchday Three, Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates were the sole away victors after leaving the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Sepahan with a 2-1 win.
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