Love strikes twice as Shandong Luneng win 3-1 in Osaka
Chinese side go top of their group and avenge 2011 defeat
Vagner Love outshone Cerezo Osaka star Diego Forlan to score two goals in a stunning 3-1 win as China’s Shandong Luneng went top of their group in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
After his fellow Brazilian Aloisio had headed Shandong into a fifth-minute lead at the Osaka Nagai Stadium, Love struck with a pair of exquisite finishes.
The 29-year-old, who inspired CSKA Moscow to victory in the 2005 Uefa Cup, swivelled and shot past goalkeeper Kim Jin-Hyeon from the edge of the box in the 26th minute and netted a similar goal 11 minutes into the second half to put the visitors firmly in control.
Cerezo gave Uruguayan international striker Forlan his first start in the competition but all they could muster was a goal by substitute Yoichiro Kakitani six minutes from time.
With the win, Shandong avenged a 4-0 defeat that they had suffered at the same ground to Cerezo in the 2011 tournament and moved to the top of Group E on goal difference.
They were joined on four points by Korean double winners Pohang Steelers, who beat Buriram United 2-1 in Thailand thanks to first-half goals by Kim Tae-Soo and Kim Seung-Dae.
Kim Tae-Soo gave the visitors the lead when his 19th-minute strike was deflected in by David Rochela, and Kim Seung-Dae extended their advantage five minutes later after he had been sent clear by Kim Dae-Ho’s excellent through-ball.
The Thai Premier League champions pulled a goal back with 21 minutes left when Adisak Kraisorn’s header was fumbled into the net by goalkeeper Shin Hwa-Yong, but Pohang held on despite intense pressure in the closing minutes.
In Group F, Korean side FC Seoul stayed top after coming from behind to draw 1-1 at Beijing Guoan.
Nigerian forward Peter Utaka gave the Chinese club a 20th minute lead but Go Yo-han came off the bench to fire home the equaliser in the 71st minute.
FC Seoul moved up to four points, one ahead of Australia’s Central Coast Mariners, who bounced back from a 2-0 defeat to the Korean side two weeks ago with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Japanese champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
The visitors went ahead in the 21st minute when Tsukasa Shiotani’s header bounced over South Korean Kim Seung-Yong, who was guarding the far post.
But Kim quickly made up for his defensive blunder by latching onto a long ball from Eddy Bosnar and playing in the fast-breaking Mile Sterjovski, who finished smartly for the equaliser two minutes later.
Sterjovski then put the Mariners in front after 32 minutes with a fabulous strike from outside the area for his second goal of the night.
In Tashkent, Qatar’s El Jaish earned a hard-fought 2-1 win over Uzbekistan champions Bunyodkor in Group B with Brazilian striker Nilmar finding the target once in each half
Nilmar, who switched to El Jaish from Al Rayyan just a month ago, opened the scoring with a 33rd minute strike from a solo effort and added another in the 65th minute after Jovlon Ibrokhimov was caught napping following a throw-in and the alert striker took full advantage of the situation.
El Jaish pulled one back in stoppage time through substitute Bakhodir Pardaev, but it was no consolation for the Uzbeks who failed to make the most of their chances in front of their home crowd.
The other Group B match saw Iran’s Foolad Khouzestan edge Saudi side Al Fateh 1-0, thanks to a 68th minute penalty scored by captain Bakhtiar Rehmani after Abdulaziz Bo Shaqra had handled the ball.
In Doha, Al Rayyan defeated Iran’s Estehglal 1-0, with striker Kalu Uche finding the net in the 14th minute in the Group A clash.