Lokomotiv 1-1 Foolad
(Zoteev 7′, Jamaati 33′)
Two first-half goals saw Lokomotiv and Foolad leave the Lokomotiv Stadium pitch at honors even on Wednesday night.
Midfielder Oleg Zoteev was eager to set the pace for the hosts when he put them on the scoreboard in the seventh minute from the edge of the penalty area. The Uzbekistan Cup champions were unable to hold the lead to halftime when Mehrdad Jamaati’s deflected in the 33rd minute tied things up at 1-1.
The second half produced plenty of opportunities for both side, but in the end neither team found what was needed to break the stalemate.
Al Sadd 1-0 Al Hilal
2011 ACL champions Al Sadd earned their first win of the tournament with a 1-0 victory over Al Hilal.
There were few chances to be found in the first half until 30 minutes in when Al Hilal’s Yousef Al Salem surrendered the ball to Hasan Al Haydos, who dished a tremendous through pass to Khalfan Ibrahim. The Qatari easily made his way past two defenders and put his shot past the Al Hilal goalkeeper for the eventual game winner.
Al Hilal defender Kwak Tae-hwi wasted a tremendous Thiago Neves cross that could have drawn the team at halftime, and the 2014 ACL runners-up piled on the pressure in the second half. Greece international Georgios Samaras came on after the break and helped the Saudis control possession for much of the second period, but an equalizer was too much to ask for and Al Sadd walked off the pitch with a full three points and control of Group C.
Tractor Sazi 1-0 Al Ahli (UAE)
Iranian side Tractor Sazi got their first win of the campaign after edging the UAE’s Al Ahli in a tight affair in front of over 25,000 in Tabriz. Both teams traded blows early before Tractor Sazi struck five minutes before half time. A fabulous run from Fardin Aabedini saw him glide past two players on the touch line before storming into the box, cutting to the byline to cross the ball across the face of goal for Farshad Ahmadzadeh to tap home. A rocket of a free kick from Mehdi Kiani almost doubled their lead just moments later but it went agonisingly wide.
Al Ahli pushed for an equaliser in the second half and should have had it when Habib Fardan Abdualla was played in, but he faltered at the crucial moment when one-on-one with Hamed Lak. A spectacular scissor kick from Ismaeel Al Hamadi also went agonisingly wide as Tractor Sazi breathed a sigh of relief, doing enough to keep Al Ahli at bay and take all three points.
Al Ahli (KSA) 2-1 Nasaf Qarshi
(Al Soma 22′, Al Amari 78′ / Gevorkyan 65′)
The Saudi side collected their first three points scoring a late winner to deny Uzbekistan’s Nasaf Qarshi. Al Ahli opened the scoring midway through the first half when Syrian international Omar Al Soma found space in the box and was found beautifully by Mohamed Abdul Shafy to head home his second of the campaign. While they had their chances they couldn’t double their lead and were made to pay when Artur Geworkyan’s stunning free kick midway through the second half drew the Uzbekistan side level.
The Saudis restored their lead less than fifteen minutes later when Saleh Al Amari, who had come on just four minutes earlier, got on the end of fellow substitute Amiri Kurdi’s cross to head home past a stranded Eldorbek Suyunov. Khamza Karimov had a chance to resure a point for Nasaf in the last minute of the match, but bundled his shot just inches wide.
Beijing Guoan 1-0 Suwon Bluewings
Beijing Guoan made it two from from with a narrow 1-0 win over a ten-man Suwon Bluewings at the Workers Stadium in Beijing.
Both sides had their chances in the first half, with Yeom Ki-hun coming closest for Suwon from a free kick, but neither side could break the deadlock and the teams headed into half time still locked at 0-0.
Yang Sang-min came close to opening the scoring early in the second half after Beijing failed to clear from the corner, but was denied by a fine save from Yang Zhi. Yang was involved in what looked like a clash of bodies with Zhang Chengdong minutes later, with the referee judging that the Korean had committed a foul, showing the defender his second yellow and giving him his marching orders. Beijing capitalised on the one-man advantage within five minutes when Dejan Damjanovic headed home from a corner to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
While both teams had great chances to add to the scoreline, neither could capitalise and Beijing walked away with their second win in as many matches.
Urawa Reds 0-1 Brisbane Roar
A second minute goal from fringe player Brandon Borrello was enough to secure the win for Brisbane Roar against an Urawa Reds side struggling to find their way into the 2015 season.
The action started quickly with Brisbane Roar passing the ball too fast for the home side and Thomas Broich finding Borrello in the penalty area, who lashed a visious strike beyond Shusaku Nishikawa at the near post with his first touch.
Urawa struggled to find their way into the game and matters were made worse for the J-League runners-up just six minutes into the second half, when Daisuke Nasu’s pass was intercepted by Andrija Kaluderovic, who was then pulled down by the Urawa defender, earning him a red card.
As Urawa attempted to fight back, Brisbane Roar stood strong against the Japanese side that has yet to earn a win in the new year, for the current A-League champions to earn their first ever win in the continent.
FC Seoul 1-0 Kashima Antlers
(Kim JK 67′)
2013 runners-up Seoul found their first points of the campaign with a solid win over an unconvincing Kashima Antlers.
The Japanese side found the game’s first solid chance in the 13th minute when Shuto Yamamoto’s header went just over the crossbar after goalkeeper Kim Yong-dae did well to tip the ball over. Yun Il-lok put the ball in a similar position for Seoul near the end of the half with a bicycle kick, but it was too high to give the capital city side the lead.
Brazilian Caio was a force for Antlers in the second half and regularly troubled the Seoul defence, but it was Kim Jin-kyu who made the difference with his close-range effort to give the hosts the lead for good, making it the sixth loss in eight games for J-League sides.
Western Sydney Wanderers 2-3 Guanzhou Evergrande
(La Rocca 57′, Castelen 90+5′ / Goulart 19′, 58′, 64′)
17 minutes of injury time were the focal point at the end of the game after 2013 Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande took three points from the current defending champions with a Ricardo Goulart hattrick.
The Brazilian opened the scoring in the 19th minute after Huang Bowen stretched to find him at the edge of the penalty area, where he had enough space between the crowd to drive a low shot beyond Ante Covic with the help of a deflection from Wanderers captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley.
Iacopo La Rocca brought the struggling A-League side back in with a 57th minute equaliser, heading from the corner and off the far post to restore the chances of an unbeaten record in this year’s competition.
It was to only last for a minute, however, with Goulart getting on the end of Gao Lin’s low cross that couldn’t be stopped by Covic. It took him six more minutes to find his hattrick through yet another Gao Lin assist, this time exposing the Wanderers defence on the counter and passing across to the new striker, who adjusted before shooting into a nearly-open net.
A scare for the visitors saw goalkeeper Zeng Cheng substituted with a potential broken jaw with less than ten minutes remaining in regulation time, after a collission with his own defence in an attempt to clear the danger of a free kick. The lengthy treatment and resulting substitution saw the Malaysian referee add 17 minutes to proceedings.
Romeo Castelen gave the home side a chance to get back into the game with his goal five minutes into injury time, heading a cross from Nikita Rukavytsya beyond the reach of substitute goalkeeper Li Shuai, but the Chinese powerhouse managed to keep the scoreline as-is for the remainder of the match.
(Recaps contributed by Paul Williams, Ryan Steele, and Dan Orlowitz)