The first leg results of the AFC Champions League saw so many games on a knife edge and with so many goals, games being decided on away goals and drama all over the continent it was a memorable round of games over both weeks. This is what was promised and it is exactly what we fans got!
Straight into the action then!
The first game was decided on away goals after an 89th-minute winner on the night from Seyed Jalal Hosseini secured a 2-1 win for the Iranian side as they progressed into the next round. Like the last game, the match burst into life in the second leg as the home side could not find the all-important breakthrough despite dominating the game. However, Al-Sadd scored with literally their only chance of the game and the ball was back in Persepolis’ court. Quite literally. Eventually, the favourites came through courtesy of the 89th minute as a 2-1 win secured them the tie.
Al-Duhail continued their impeccable run in this season’s AFC Champions League, as they goals from first leg heroes Youssef El Arabi and Ismael Mohammed secured a 4-1 win as they went through to the next round comprehensively on aggregate. 8-3 was the final score in favour of Duhail.
Esteghal made an impressive comeback from the first leg 1-0 reverse to win the game 3-1 and go through to the next round. Their saviour was Mame Thiam, as his hat-trick and performance pulled the Iranian side through to the next round. Ghasem Hadadifar managed to pull one back but it wasn’t enough for Zob Ahan as they crashed out of the AFC Champions League round of 16.
Al-Sadd despite the 2-2 draw away at Al-Ahli managed to go through courtesy of their 2-1 win in the first leg. The second goal for Al-Sadd came from Baghdad Bounedjah who scored moments after seeing his penalty saved. It was Baghdad’s second on the night as he scored the opening goal of the game just minutes into the match. Muhannad Asiri and Claudemir were the scorers for Al-Ahli.
It was another draw in the all-China encounter as Guangzhou Evergrande came crashing out of the AFC Champions League in the round of 16. The Chinese champions twice led by Ricardo Goulart but could not hold onto the lead both times as Alexandre Pato and Jie Wang got the teams level. In the end, it was enough for Quanjian as despite their lacklustre campaign domestically are in the quarterfinals continentally.
The other Chinese side Shanghai SIPG could not turn around a 3-1 deficit and managed to win only 2-1 on the night. The goal from Shoma Doi minutes before halftime was enough to send SIPG crashing out of the AFC Champions League despite a two-goal showing for Hulk. Oscar had a great game but it still wasn’t enough for Shanghai.
Jeonbuk Hyundai, however, had no problems in their second leg tie against Buriram United as their 2-0 win sent them through to the next round. It was a comfortable win for the South Korean side as they controlled the game from the first whistle to the last. Goals from Ricardo Lopes and Jae Sung Lee secured the victory as they went through 4-3 on aggregate.
In the last game of the Round of 16, Suwon had no problems overturning a 1-0 deficit heading into the game into a 3-1 aggregate victory. It was again all too easy for Suwon as two goals in five minutes for Kim Gun Hee in the first half and a goal in extra time for Waguininho helped punch their ticket for the next round of the AFC Champions League.