Ittihad, Nasr crash out of AFC Champions League
Saudi's Al-Ittihad club player Mukhtar Fallatah (R) fights for the ball against Abdollah Karami of Iran's Sepahan club during their Asian Champions League group A football match at the Sultan Qabous stadium in Muscat on May 4, 2016. MOHAMMED MAHJOUB / AFP
Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv won Group A after it drew 0-0 with Al-Nasr in Tashkent Tuesday evening while the Emiratis take second place in the group due to their win over the 2004 and 2005 champion on Matchday Three.
Both sides will be making their first-ever appearance in the knockout phase of the AFC Champions League.
Ittihad were as left to rue its poor start to the campaign, when the club from Jeddah picked up just one point from its opening four games and only registered its first win on Matchday Five against Sepahan.
Victor Piturca’s side completed the double over the Iranians - themselves finalists in the AFC Champions League back in 2007 - but there was little satisfaction to be garnered from a disappointing campaign.
Ittihad took the lead after just 15 minutes when Sanmartean’s free kick from 20 yards out curled around the defensive wall before beating Sepahan goalkeeper Shahab Gordan at his left post.
Al-Nathiri ensured three points for Ittihad15 minutes from time when he was made room behind the Iranian defense before sending the goalkeeper the wrong way with an assured finish.
Zobahan beats Nasr
Zobahan ensured they finished the group stage of the 2016 AFC Champions League undefeated as Yahya Golmohammadi’s side handed Saudi Arabia’s Nasr a 3-0 defeat on Wednesday.
Ehsin Pahlavan and Masoud Hassanzadeh struck in the first half before Nasr goalkeeper Hussain Shaian was sent off just ahead of the hour mark as the Riyadh club bowed out of the competition in disappointing fashion. Hashem Beikzadeh added a third for Zobahan three minutes from time.
Lekhwiya holds Bunyodkor
Bunyodkor failed in their attempt to pick up their first win of the 2016 AFC Champions League campaign as Sergey Lushchan’s side were held to a 0-0 draw by Lekhwiya at Abdullah bin Jassim Stadium on Wednesday.
The point earned was Bunyodkor’s third in the competition this season and means the Uzbek side end the campaign bottom of Group B, with Lekhwiya finishing in second place behind Zobahan to qualify for the knockout phase.
Earlier, goals from Alex Teixeira and Jo couldn’t save Jiangsu Suning as the Chinese big-spender crashed out of the AFC Champions League with a 2-2 draw against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
In its final Group E game, Jiangsu’s Asian-record signing Teixeira canceled out Leonardo’s opener, and ex-Manchester City striker Jo made it 2-1 for the visitor after half-time.
But Lim Jong-Eun equalized coolly for Jeonbuk on 68 minutes and it proved vital for the 2006 Asian champion from South Korea, which grabbed the point it needed to reach the last 16.
It was heartbreak for Dan Petrescu’s Jiangsu, who splurged 50 million euros ($57.5 million) on Teixeira and also splashed out on Jo and Chelsea’s Ramires in its bid for glory.
It joined reigning champion Guangzhou Evergrande in departing what has been a mixed campaign for Chinese teams, despite a world-leading spending spree on players earlier this year.
However, Shandong Luneng will fly the Chinese flag alongside Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Shanghai SIPG in the last 16 after it rounded off Group F with a 0-0 draw against Buriram United.
FC Tokyo pipped Jiangsu to second spot in Group E and go through with Jeonbuk after Ryoichi Maeda scored twice to hand it a 2-1 win over Vietnam’s Binh Duong.
After a quiet start in Jeonju, Leonardo drilled Jeonbuk ahead from the penalty spot in the 19th minute after Choi Chul-Soon was clumsily fouled by Yang Xiaotian.
But Teixeira equalized for Jiangsu just five minutes later when he volleyed a ricocheting free-kick into the roof of the Jeonbuk net.
After a foul on Ramires, Jo converted the game’s second penalty nine minutes after half-time to make it 2-1 to Jiangsu, but Jeonbuk was level again in the 68th minute.
In a well-worked corner move, a flick-on found Lim lurking at the back post and he neatly cushion-volleyed what transpired as a vital goal for Jeonbuk in front of their home fans.
Elsewhere Adriano struck his 10th goal of the competition as FC Seoul lost 2-1 away to Sanfrecce Hiroshima for its only defeat of Group F, but still finished top regardless.