Kashima: After scoring a brace to help Kashima Antlers come from behind to beat Shandong Luneng 2-1 and qualify for the 2019 AFC Champions League’s knockout stages, Sho Ito has insisted that the competition will only get harder.
The defending champions went into the game at Kashima Soccer Stadium needing to avoid defeat to progress to the last 16, but fell behind early on when Marouane Fellaini struck after 11 minutes.
One down at the interval, Kashima knew that if the score remained the same and there was a winner between Gyeongnam FC and Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in Group E’s other game, then they would be heading for an early exit.
Group E: Kashima Antlers (JPN) 2-1 Shandong Luneng FC (CHN)
Ibaraki: Substitute Sho Ito scored two goals in the second half to rescue Kashima Antlers’ 2019 AFC Champions League campaign on Wednesday, as Go Oiwa’s side came from behind to defeat Shandong Luneng FC 2-1 and qualify for the Round of 16.
Marouane Fellaini gave Shandong the lead 11 minutes into the game and Kashima looked to be heading for the exit until Ito’s intervention from the bench in the last quarter of the game gave the holders all three points to seal second place in Group E.
The result means Kashima will take on fellow J.League side Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the last 16 next month while Shandong finish top of the group, despite the defeat, and will take on fellow Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande in the next round.
Group E: Gyeongnam FC (KOR) 2-0 Johor Darul Ta'zim (MAS)
Changwon: Luc Castaignos’ second half goal and a late Takahiro Kunimoto strike earned Gyeongnam FC a 2-0 win over Johor Darul Ta’zim on Wednesday, but it was not enough to take the K League side into the knockout rounds of the 2019 AFC Champions League.
Gyeongnam finished the group phase of the Continental championship with eight points in third place in Group E, two adrift of Kashima Antlers after the Japanese side’s 2-1 win over Shandong Luneng ensured the holders take second place in the group and advance to the last 16.
Shandong top the final standings while JDT finished bottom as they proved unable to add to their four-point haul.
Group F: Guangzhou Evergrande FC (CHN) 1-0 Daegu FC (KOR)
Guangzhou: Two-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande qualified for the last 16 of the 2019 AFC Champions League at the expense of K-League side Daegu after securing a hard-fought 1-0 win over the tournament debutants on Wednesday.
Chinese Super League side Guangzhou had to win at Tianhe Stadium to qualify as runners-up from Group F behind Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima, with Korean FA Cup winners Daegu only needing a draw to progress.
And it was the home side who claimed the result they needed as Huang Bowen’s corner found the back of the net, with Guangzhou's Paulinho credited with the goal despite Jeong Tae-wook appearing to turn the ball into his own net from the edge of the six-yard area just after the hour mark.
We showed our strength, says Shanghai SIPG's Pereira
Shanghai: Vitor Pereira hailed his players’ mental strength after Oscar-inspired Shanghai SIPG handed Ulsan Hyundai a 5-0 beating on Tuesday to book their place in the Round of 16 of the 2019 AFC Champions League.
The former Chelsea star claimed a hat-trick in a virtuoso display for the Chinese Super League champions, who claimed second place in Group H at the expense of J.League champions Kawasaki Frontale.
The win means Shanghai will take on Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the next round and Pereira was delighted with his team’s performance.
Saitama: Urawa Red Diamonds forward Shinzo Koroki says the two-time champions are motivated by thoughts of a third AFC Champions League title after Tuesday's 3-0 win over Beijing FC secured passage to the Knockout Stage.
There is a feeling amongst those at Urawa Red Diamonds of unfinished business at the AFC Champions League. Winners in 2017, the Reds were unable to qualify for the 2018 edition and thus never had the opportunity to retain their title.
The return to the Continental competition this year has, instead, been perceived as a belated defence of the championship they memorably lifted at Saitama Stadium after a victory over Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal.
And that aim, admitted Koroki, was a key motivating factor in the winner-take-all clash with Beijing FC on Matchday Six.