East Asia Domestic Wrap: First blood Shandong in FA Cup Final
Kuala Lumpur: Shandong Luneng came out on top of the first leg of the Chinese FA Cup final against Shanghai Shenhua following a 1-0 win in Jinan on Friday.
Elsewhere, the three-way race for the J.League title remains in the balance, while Ulsan Hyundai maintain their three-point lead at the top of the K League following another action-packed weekend of domestic football in the East Asia region.
After a one month break, fixtures returned to Chinese Taipei, while the early stages of the seasons in Hong Kong and Guam progress in intriguing fashion.
For a round-up of all the domestic action across East Asia, here’s the-AFC.com’s look back at the latest round of matches.
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China PR: Pelle gives Shandong early advantage; Zahavi breaks record
The Chinese FA Cup final got underway on Friday evening with the first leg at Jinan Olympic Sports Centre Stadium and it proved to be tightly contested affair between Shandong and Shanghai.
Italian striker Graziano Pelle's 40th-minute penalty proved to be the difference-maker between the two sides in a match that featured plenty of star power in the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Stephan El Shaaraway, Odion Ighalo and Kim Shin-wook.
The decisive second leg will take place at Hongkou Football Stadium in Shanghai on December 6. Cup final aside, there was also one other domestic fixture in the top flight as Guangzhou R&F won 4-1 away at bottom side Beijing Renhe.
A notable tie as Guangzhou striker Eran Zahavi scored his 29th of the campaign, breaking the CSL record for most goals in a single season.
Japan: Three-way race looks to go all the way
A Serginho goal 18 minutes from time gave league leaders Kashima Antlers a narrow 1-0 win over Urawa Red Diamonds on Friday to lay down the challenge to title-chasers FC Tokyo and Yokohama F. Marinos, who were both in action the day later.
However, to the Ibaraki club's disappointment, both picked up victories to keep things at the top as tight as can be. Yokohama edged Sagan Tosu 2-1 away, while FC Tokyo enjoyed a more comfortable 2-0 win in Oita Trinita after scoring both goals inside the opening 10 minutes.
The results leave Kashima and FC Tokyo level in first place, separated only by the former's superior goal difference, with Ange Postecoglou's Yokohama just a further point back.
Meanwhile, Kawasaki Frontale defeated Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 to leapfrog Hiroshi Jofuku's side into fourth, albeit still seven points behind Yokohama.
Korea Republic: Ulsan maintain three-point lead at the top
They may have left it late but Kim Bo-kyung's 81st-minute winner was as vital as it was stunning, as the midfielder dispatched a sweetly struck free-kick to give Ulsan Hyundai a vital 1-0 win away at third-placed FC Seoul.
Jeonbuk themselves picked up three points, winning 2-0 at the team in fourth, Daegu FC, to keep the gap between themselves and leaders Ulsan at three points with just two matches of the season remaining.
All eyes will be on the penultimate round of K League fixtures on November 23: Ulsan host Jeonbuk in what could potentially be the title decider.
Chinese Tapei: The season gets back underway
After a break in action since September 29, football returned to the Chinese Taipei top flight on Sunday with a quartet of goal-filled ties.
In a shock result, league leaders Tatung dropped points to bottom side Taipei Red Lions after a 1-1 draw, allowing the team in second, Taipower, to join them at the summit following their 2-0 win over Hang Yuan.
Meanwhile, Taichung Futuro comfortably saw off Ming Chuan University with a 5-0 win and Tainan City were equally comprehensive in their 3-0 triumph over TSU.
Hong Kong: Eastern SC go top, R&F crush Lee Man
Former champions Eastern SC returned to the top of the Hong Kong Premier League on Sunday after a 2-1 away defeat of Happy Valley, but last year's runners-up R&F look intent on repeating their 2018 challenge after a big win on Saturday.
A hat-trick for Serge Deble ensured R&F of the points at Yanzigang Stadium on Saturday after they put five past visitors Lee Man in a 5-1 triumph, while defending champions Wofoo Tai Po belatedly got their season up and running with their first win of the campaign away at Yuen Long.
Guam: Bog Strykers lead the way
Early top-flight front-runners Bog Strykers edged a five-goal thriller over defending champions Napa Rovers to ensure they are the only unbeaten side after the first three rounds of fixtures of Guam's 2019 season.
Islanders had also won their first two ties but suffered their first defeat as they lost 3-2 to Quality Distributors, while Loa Heat came out on top 4-1 against Guam Shipyard.
Photos: Shandong Luneng
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