Kashiwa Reysol, Lekhwiya earn away wins in ACL round of 16
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Persepolis secured a 1-0 home win after a stoppage-time own-goal from Al Hilal defender Digao to take a narrow advantage against the 2014 finalists into next week’s return leg in the Asian Champion League round of 16.
J-League club Kashiwa Reysol had a 3-2 win at Suwon and Lekhwiya had a 2-1 away win in a Qatari showdown against 2011 champion Al Sadd in other Tuesday matches, and Jeonbuk Motors was held to a 1-1 draw by Beijing Guoan.
Branko Ivankovic was delighted with his Persepolis lineup, which benefited from a big, vocal crowd at Azadi Stadium in Tehran and some important saves from goalkeeper Sousha Makani.
“We have had two big games in just four days. We had to recover after a tough league game against Esteghlal and fortunately we got a good result and took a big step toward the quarterfinals,” he said. “Al Hilal was great ... they were the best team in Asia last year and lost the final against Western Sydney Wanderers because of bad luck, but tonight my players were real heroes.”
Lekhwiya scored via Sebastian Soria and Youssef Msakni to lead 2-0 after 36 minutes against Al Sadd but had a setback when Luiz Junior was sent off two minutes from fulltime after picking up his second yellow card.
At Suwon, Yeom Ki-hun opened the scoring for the home team but Kashiwa responded with two goals from Leandro and a Akimi Barada strike to take a 3-1 lead before Jong Tae-se narrowed the margin with a late goal.
“We are not thinking that this is already won, and we know there is still a long way to go,” Kashiwa coach Tatsuma Yoshida said. “This is only half time and the players will need not to get carried away. There is still a lot of work to do. The result was good, but Suwon are still a very strong and tough team.”
In Wednesday’s matches, 2013 champion Guangzhou Evergrande travels to Seongnam FC and FC Seoul hosts Gamba Osaka in the eastern division. In the western zone, Ali Ahli and Al Ain meet in a United Arab Emirates’ derby, and Naft Tehran takes on Al-Ahli.