Group H: Sydney FC (AUS) 0-0 Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR)
Sydney: Sydney FC and Ulsan Hyundai were forced to share the spoils after neither side could find the back of the net in a tight 0-0 draw in their opening 2019 AFC Champions League Group H encounter at Jubilee Stadium on Wednesday.
The home side came out of the blocks the stronger of the two teams with Adam Le Fondre having three good chances in the opening 12 minutes, but the English striker couldn’t find the target with any of his efforts.
Group G: Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN) 3-0 Buriram United (THA)
Saitama: A second half brace from Daiki Hashioka helped Urawa Red Diamonds to a hard-fought 3-0 win over Buriram United in their opening 2019 AFC Champions League Group G encounter at Saitama Stadium 2002 on Wednesday.
In their first appearance in the Continental showpiece since they lifted the title in 2017, the home side started brightly and had a golden chance to open the scoring after just 10 minutes when Yosuke Kashiwagi’s cross found Andrew Nabbout unmarked in the box, but the Australian attacker couldn’t keep his effort down.
Doha: Medhi Benatia drew on his FIFA World Cup experience with Morocco and admitted that it was vital Al Duhail made their dominance count with a goal against Esteghlal in Group C of the 2019 AFC Champions League on Tuesday, before they went on to record a 3-0 victory.
After a scoreless first half against the Iranian side, Benatia headed home the first goal as the hour approached to ease any opening-day nerves, before Youssef El Arabi and substitute Ali Afif both got on the scoresheet as the Qatari champions got off to a perfect start.
For Benatia, who was making his AFC Champions League debut after joining from Juventus, the game brought back memories of when he last faced Iranian opposition, back in June.
Morocco dominated against the Islamic Republic of Iran in their opening match at the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, only to concede deep into stoppage time and suffer an agonising 1-0 defeat.
Al Ain: Mohammad Al Shalhoub had two reasons to celebrate on Tuesday after the Al Hilal captain scored the only goal of the game against Al Ain in Group C of the 2019 AFC Champions League just hours after the birth of his son.
The 1-0 scoreline at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium marked Al Hilal’s first ever victory in Al Ain and also brought an end to a winless run in the competition that had stretched back to the 4-0 victory over Persepolis in the first leg of the 2017 semi-final.
The visitors were the better side throughout and, after Brazilian Carlos Eduardo struck the bar shortly after half-time, Al Hilal’s pressure finally paid off when veteran Al Shalhoub expertly tucked home Mohammed Al Burayk’s cross in the 65th minute.
Oiwa: Inexperience reason for Kashima's opening match struggle
Ibaraki: Go Oiwa blamed inexperience rather than fatigue for Kashima Antlers’ laboured start to the defence of their AFC Champions League title on Tuesday as the 2018 winners struggled to see off Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim.
Injures to a number of key players – including Yuma Suzuki and Leo Silva - forced Oiwa to field a number of young players for his side’s first game in the group phase of the 2019 campaign, but the eight-time J.League champions still picked up all three points in the Group E clash with a 2-1 win.
“This is the first match of the AFC Champions League and we won the three points, that’s all we can take from this game,” said Oiwa. “You never know what’s going to happen in any game in this tournament and that’s something I told our players."