Beijing Guoan have one foot in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League after a convincing 3-1 win against a rusty Melbourne Victory side on Tuesday extended their perfect record in Group E to three wins in three matches.
Another Australian side, Perth Glory, also experienced an embarrassing defeat, going down 2-1 to Ulsan Hyundai after the South Koreans struck twice in the dying minutes of their Group F game.
Also in Group F, Shanghai Shenhua improved their chances of qualification with their second win in three matches, edging past FC Tokyo 1-0, courtesy of a late penalty.
However, it was Bruno Genesio’s Beijing outfit who sent out a strong warning to their rivals in the tournament by following up on their win over FC Seoul last week with another impressive performance in Doha, where the tournament’s eastern zone matches are being played after a nine-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beijing clearly looked a class above Melbourne Victory, who were largely lackluster in attack and defense, with even the Australian side’s consolation goal late in the second half coming through a huge deflection from Kim Min-jae after substitute Gianluca Ianucci’s powerful shot from nearly 25m appeared heading straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Beijing allowed their Australian rivals only 40 percent ball possession and that worked hugely in their favor as they created chances galore at the Al Sadd Sports Club.
However, once again, it was their Brazilian presence that played a pivotal role, with Renato Augusto and A Lan on target in the 22nd and 34th minutes, before Wang Zimin’s brilliant goal in the 74th minute to put the match out of Victory’s reach.
Genesio, who has been in charge at Beijing Guoan for almost 16 months, was not in a very celebratory mood, despite his team’s 100 percent win record so far.
“In the first half, we played really well ... and were successful in keeping control,” Genesio said. “The only thing I am disappointed about is that we conceded one goal toward the end. We need to be more serious and cautious toward the end of the game.”
Melbourne Victory, for whom this was their second defeat in three matches — their only win came in February against Chiangrai United — are now third in the standings and would need a herculean comeback to qualify for the knockout phase.
“For us, it’s not the result we wanted,” said Victory’s Steve Kean, whose side had no match practice for several months before heading to Doha. “This was our very first match of any type. We did not even play any friendlies and came against a Beijing side that have played a full season. We wanted to win and take points, but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”
Shanghai Shenhua were celebrating their success over Tokyo after Yu Hanchao’s successful penalty in the 74th minute proved the decisive moment in the match.
“FC Tokyo are a great team, but today we really wanted to limit their opportunities,” Shenhua coach Choi Kang-hee said. “Our players really overcame their difficulties of fitness and fatigue. They persisted from the first minute until the end — and I thank them for that.”
With two losses, Perth Glory thought that they would finally grab their first win after enjoying a 1-0 lead when Daniel Stynes had scored in the 74th minute.
However, Kim In-sung canceled out Stynes’ goal in the 89th minute and Brazilian Junior Negao killed off the match in the third minute of stoppage-time.
“I think we played a very good game,” Glory assistant coach Cristian Ola said. “We stepped up in a number of areas from the first game, but the result was a bit cruel in the end.”
Elsewhere, FC Seoul crushed Chiangrai United 5-0, with Yun Ju-tae scoring a brace in the second half in Group E.
Seoul are second on six points, three behind Beijing Guoan, while Chiangrai are on the brink of elimination after losing their third consecutive game.
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