Domestic Leagues

East Asia and ASEAN Wrap: Nagoya and Cerezo drop points in race for top-two finish

Kuala Lumpur: Nagoya Grampus and Cerezo Osaka played out goalless draws in their respective games in Japan on Saturday to leave Gamba Osaka in pole position to finish second and claim a place in the 2021 AFC Champions League group stage. 

In China PR, Jiangsu FC will face Shandong Luneng in the FA Cup final after overcoming Tianjin Teda and Wuhan Zall in the semi-finals while the top two continued their winning runs in Thailand.

Meanwhile a 2020 champion was crowned in Macau, so join as we review the action from across East Asia and ASEAN.

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Japan: Good weekend for Gamba despite no game

With the J1 League title already done and dusted in Japan and no relegation at the end of the 2020 campaign, all the focus is on the race to finish in the 2021 AFC Champions league positions, one which Gamba Osaka are looking good for despite not playing at the weekend.

Gamba were three points clear of Nagoya Grampus with two games to play before Saturday's fixtures and remained two ahead after Nagoya could only manage a 0-0 draw against Yokohama FC.

In fourth place, Cerezo Osaka moved three points behind Gamba but will have been disappointed to also end goalless with the 0-0 draw against Kashiwa Reysol meaning they passed up the opportunity of moving above Nagoya and putting pressure on their city rivals.

The second-placed side will secure a place in the 2021 AFC Champions League group stage while, depending on who wins the Emperor's Cup, the third-placed team may also go directly into the group stage. The side that finishes fourth, meanwhile, would advance to the qualifying rounds if the Emperor's Cup is won by a team that has already qualified for the AFC Champions League.

Elsewhere in Japan, league winners Kawasaki Frontale drew 1-1 against Sagan Tosu while an early brace from Ayase Ueda saw fifth-placed Kashima Antlers defeat Shimizu S-Pulse 2-0 to move within a point of Cerezo.

Saturday's other games saw Urawa Red Diamonds play out a 0-0 draw with Shonan Bellmare, Oita Trinata end 1-1 against Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo and FC Tokyo defeat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 as they returned to domestic action after their AFC Champions League elimination.

China PR: Jiangsu and Shandong to meet in final

Jiangsu FC's excellent second half of the year continued as the 2020 Chinese Super League champions secured a place in the FA Cup final after overcoming Tianjin Teda on penalties after the sides had ended 1-1 on aggregate following two legs.

And Cosmin Olaroiu's team will face Shandong Luneng who, 5-0 up from the first leg against Wuhan Zall, ran out 1-0 winners in the return meeting after Belgian Marouane Fellaini netted the only goal with just under 20 minutes remaining.

The win sees Shandong return to the final for the third successive year and they will hope it's third time lucky after losing the 2018 edition to Beijing FC on away goals and last year's showpiece event against Shanghai Shenhua.

Jiangsu, who were defeated by Shandong in the 2014 final, last appeared in 2016 when they lost on away goals against Guangzhou Evergrande, a year after being crowned champions when they beat Shanghai Shenhua.

Shandong would secure a return to the AFC Champions League should they win the final while, as league champions, Jiangsu have already confirmed their place. The final is on Saturday.

Thailand: BG Pathum and Port FC

The race for the 2020-21 Thai League 1 title is showing no signs of slowing down with the unbeaten leaders BG Pathum United and second-placed Port FC both continuing their excellent winning runs.

There were few problems for BG Pathum, who secured a 4-0 win over Suphanburi after a brace from Andres Tunez to remain four points clear of Port FC with their record now reading: played 14, won 12, drawn two.

But Port refuse to give up the chase, running out 3-1 winners over Ratchaburi, who dropped from third to fourth, with what was their eighth successive league win and 10th in all competitions.

Having endured a disappointing season to date, Buriram United have moved up to fifth following their third win in four after seeing off Bangkok United, who fell to sixth, 2-1.

An entertaining contest between Muangthong United and Prachuap ended 3-3 while there were seven goals in the game between Trat and Nakhon Ratchasima, with Dennis Murillo scoring a second-half hat-trick as Nakhon Ratchasima came from three down to win 4-3.

The other games at the weekend saw Police Tero post a 1-0 win over Rayong and Samut Prakan City defeat Chonburi 4-1.

Macau: Benfica hit Casa de Portugal for 23 to secure title

A stunning result in Macau on Friday saw league leaders Benfica Macau storm to a 23-1 victory over Casa de Portugal to clinch the Primeira Divisao title by virtue of goal difference ahead of CPK.

CPK had defeated Sporting Macau 4-0 but Benfica's mammoth victory ensured they claimed the championship after both unbeaten teams finished on 25 points with eight wins and a draw.

Seven points back, third-placed Cheng Fung edged Tak Chun Ka I 2-1, while Monte Carlo beat Policia 3-1 and Hang Sai overcame bottom side Lun Lok 3-2.

*Poll ends at 16:00 (UTC+8) on December 18.


Photo: Cerezo Osaka

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