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Iniesta: Being here at the end is Vissel Kobe's AFC Champions League target


Doha: Months of domestic frustration were forgotten in 90 minutes as Andres Iniesta helped Vissel Kobe to a 3-1 AFC Champions League triumph over Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday, but the former Barcelona star insists his side are just getting started.

Iniesta was at his brilliant best at Khalifa International Stadium, teeing up Kyogo Furuhashi’’s opening goal late in the first half, before making the points safe, and sending Vissel to the Round of 16 with a sweetly struck goal of his own in the 84th minute.

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Vissel have won just nine of 33 league matches this season and were on a five-match losing streak before their sparkling display against Guangzhou, but Iniesta believes there is enough quality in Atsuhiro Miura’s squad to do something special in Asia’s premier competition.

“It hasn’t been easy in Japan, but in a different competition maybe the players have a different motivation,” said the Spanish World Cup winner. “This level of competition can push us higher. This is our first game, and we want to be here playing until the end. That’s our target.

“It’s our first win in Qatar, and we have six points now. This is very important for us to go to the next stage, and I think today we showed that we deserved the result. I think it’s very important for us now to keep going like this.”

Group G - MD2: Guangzhou Evergrande FC 1-3 Vissel Kobe

Of particular satisfaction for Vissel was their defensive display against a Guangzhou side rich in attacking talent.

Anderson Talisca, Ai Kesen (Elkeson) and Gao Late (Ricardo Goulart) have all lit up the final third in the AFC Champions League before, but they were prevented from generating many clear-cut chances by a well organised defence, managing just two shots on target despite trying their luck on 15 occasions.

“I’m very happy to get this result,” declared Iniesta.

“In the league we really struggled to score goals, but also to stop them being scored against us, but today our defenders did well and organised well, and we were able to score three goals. We’ll keep fighting, and we’ll go as far as possible in this tournament.”

Next up for the revitalised Vissel is a rematch with Guangzhou Evergrande at Al Janoub Stadium on Friday, with Iniesta and company to enjoy a six-day break before completing their group stage campaign against Suwon Samsung Bluewings on December 4.

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