Al Ain: Veteran Mohammad Al Shalhoub was the hero as his 65th minute strike secured Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal a 1-0 win over Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates in a 2019 AFC Champions League Group C tie on Tuesday.
The two sides had met twice in last year’s group stage, sharing the points in the first leg in Saudi Arabia, while Al Ain emerged 2-1 winners in the UAE.
Al Hilal started strongly and almost found themselves in front within three minutes through Carlos Eduardo. The Brazilian pounced on a loose ball inside the box, but goalkeeper Khaled Eisa made the save.
Group C: Al Duhail SC (QAT) 3-0 Esteghlal FC (IRN)
Doha: Qatar's Al Duhail turned on the power in the second half to beat Esteghlal FC from Islamic Republic of Iran 3-0 in their opening 2019 AFC Champions League Group C tie on Tuesday.
The home side came racing off the blocks, and nearly got their opening goal within 60 seconds of kick-off. Luiz Junior intercepted the ball in midfield and supplied Shoya Nakajima who advanced down the left and struck from a narrow angle. The Japanese’s shot was saved by Mehdi Rahmati.
Centre-back Ahmed Yasser tested the goalkeeper from distance. His powerful strike seemed destined for the top corner, but Rahmati tipped it behind in the 12th minute.
Group E: Gyeongnam FC (KOR) 2-2 Shandong Luneng FC (CHN)
Changwon: Changwon: Former Italian international striker Graziano Pelle opened his AFC Champions League campaign with a brace as Shandong Luneng came from behind to draw 2-2 with tournament debutants Gyeongnam FC in a hotly contested Group E encounter on Tuesday.
On a chilly night at the Changwon Football Center Stadium, both sides started well in an evenly contested opening half.
Shandong had the first chance of the match when Wu Xinghan was left free in the box from a free-kick, but he couldn’t direct his header on target.
At the other end, Shandong’s star signing, Belgian international Marouane Fellaini made a crucial defensive header on 11 minutes as Song Ju-hun looked to get on the end of Lee Yeong-jae’s in-swinging free-kick.
Group E: Kashima Antlers (JPN) 2-1 Johor Darul Ta'zim (MAS)
Ibaraki: Japan's Kashima Antlers got their AFC Champions League title defence underway with a 2-1 win over Johor Darul Ta'zim of Malaysia in Group E on Tuesday.
There was an early scare for the visitors when JDT goalkeeper Farizal Marlias brought down Takeshi Kanamori on the edge of the box. The away side were relieved that the referee blew for a free-kick and not a penalty.
Group F: Guangzhou Evergrande FC (CHN) 2-0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima (JPN)
Guangzhou: Guangzhou Evergrande struck two early goals to earn a 2-0 victory over Group F rivals Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Matchday One of the 2019 AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
Sanfrecce had an early chance when Hiroya Matsumoto’s ball over the top released Douglas Vieira. The striker had a clear run on goal but took the ball too far wide and his effort from a tight angle was saved by Zeng Cheng.
Guangzhou responded by starting to dominate possession and it was no surprise when they took the lead after a fine team move in the 19th minute. Li Xuepeng’s deft pass released Yu Hanchao down the left and the winger’s cross was headed in by Anderson Talisca.
Group F: Melbourne Victory (AUS) 1-3 Daegu FC (KOR)
Melbourne: Korea Republic's Daegu FC fought back from a goal down to beat Melbourne Victory of Australia 3-1 in their 2019 AFC Champions League Group F opener on Tuesday.
In their very first AFC Champions League campaign, the 2018 Korean FA Cup champions were on the back foot early as the home side jumped out of the blocks to dominate early proceedings, with Raul Baena and Terry Antonis both having early efforts from long range.