Al Ain: Saeed Juma’s second-half strike was the difference as Al Ain defeated FC Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan 1-0 at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium to reach the 2020 AFC Champions League group stage on Tuesday.
Bunyodkor had reached the play-off stage after defeating Iraq’s Al Zawraa 4-1 in the Preliminary Round 2 a week earlier. Meanwhile, Al Ain were placed directly in this stage, having finished fourth in the 2018-19 UAE Pro League.
Play-off: Al Sailiya SC (QAT) 0-0 Shahr Khodro FC (IRN) (Shahr Khodro win 5-4 on penalties)
Doha: Islamic Republic of Iran’s Shahr Khodro FC completed a history making AFC Champions League group stage qualification, prevailing 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw against Qatar’s Al Sailiya FC at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper Mahdi Rahmati was the hero for Shahr Khodro, producing a brilliant shootout save to deny countryman Karim Ansarifard before Saeid Sadeghi struck the decisive blow after more than 120 minutes of hard-fought action.
Shahr Khodro’s success means there will be four Iranian clubs in the group stage, while Al Sailiya will need to wait at least a year longer for their maiden taste of Continental group stage football.
Play-off: Al Ahli Saudi FC (KSA) 1-0 FC Istiklol (TJK)
Jeddah: A penalty from Youcef Belaïli at the death helped Al Ahli Saudi FC overcome FC Istiklol of Tajikistan to reach the 2020 AFC Champions League Group Stage with a 1-0 win at the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium on Tuesday.
Istiklol had qualified to the play-off stage after stunning PFC Lokomotiv 1-0 in Tashkent in the Preliminary Round 2, while Al Ahli qualified as fourth placed in the 2018-19 Saudi Pro League.
Nabbout ecstatic to be back at 'biggest competition in Asia'
Kashima: Melbourne Victory's match-winner Andrew Nabbout expressed his delight at returning to the AFC Champions League following the A-League side's 1-0 win over Kashima Antlers in the play-offs on Tuesday.
Having weathered a Kashima storm in the first half, Melbourne netted the tie's only goal on 54 minutes when Nabbout was on hand to fire home a deflected effort past Kwoun Sun-tae.
Custodian Lawrence Thomas then put on a goalkeeping clinic to deny the 2018 champions as the A-League side held out for a famous victory.
FC Seoul brushed aside 10-man Kedah to book their place in the group phase of the 2020 AFC Champions League on Tuesday as Choi Yong-soo’s side handed the Malaysians a 4-1 defeat at Seoul World Cup Stadium.
The 2013 runners-up will go into Group E when the tournament begins next month, where they will face Chinese Super League side Beijing FC, Thai champions Chiangrai United and Melbourne Victory from Australia.
Play-off: FC Tokyo (JPN) 2-0 Ceres Negros FC (PHI)
Tokyo: FC Tokyo overcame both Ceres Negros and a wet Tokyo Stadium pitch to qualify for the 2020 AFC Champions League group stage with a 2-0 win on Tuesday.
Second half goals from Sei Muroya and Adaílton Da Silva stamped Tokyo’s ticket to the tournament proper, in the process ending Ceres Negros’ bid to become the first club from the Philippines to reach the group stage.
Tokyo’s win means the 2019 J1 League runners-up will join Ulsan Hyundai, Shanghai Shenhua and Perth Glory in Group F, which begins on February 11.