AFC Champions League roundup: Shandong Luneng secure draw, Guangzhou Evergrande cruise
CGTN

Italy international Graziano Pelle scored a pair of goals Tuesday to give Chinese club Shandong Luneng to a 2-2 draw at South Korean team Gyeongnam in the opening round of the Asian Champions League.

Pelle, who signed for Shandong from Premier League club Southampton in 2016, put his team ahead with a header midway through the first half. He added the second in the 77th minute after Woo Ju-sung and Kim Seung-jun had given Gyeongnam the lead in its debut appearance in the competition.

Malaysian club Johor Darul Ta'zim also was making history in the tournament, and also lost in Group E. The first team from Malaysia to appear in the Asian Champions League lost to defending champion Kashima Antlers 2-1.

Shandong Luneng's Fellaini (L) competes for the ball with Gyeongnam players during the AFC Champions League clash at Changwon Football Center on March 5, 2019. /VCG Photo

Shandong Luneng's Fellaini (L) competes for the ball with Gyeongnam players during the AFC Champions League clash at Changwon Football Center on March 5, 2019. /VCG Photo

Taiki Hirato's fortunate opener two minutes before the break – when his attempted cross bounced past goalkeeper Farizal Marlias – and a Serginho strike from distance 11 minutes into the second half settled the contest in Kashima's favor.

Coach Go Oiwa fielded a weakened side in Kashima's first group game since winning the title at the end of last year and the eight-time J-League champions should have been ahead by the 14th minute but Brazilian striker Serginho's penalty was saved.

After Hirato and Serginho struck for Kashima, Brazilian striker Diogo pulled one back 10 minutes from time for the Malaysian champions, but Oiwa's side closed out the game to take all three points in the Group E encounter.

Guangzhou Evergrande captain Paulinho (L) surges forward during their  AFC Champions League clash with Sanfrecce Hiroshima on March 5, 2019. /VCG Photo

Guangzhou Evergrande captain Paulinho (L) surges forward during their  AFC Champions League clash with Sanfrecce Hiroshima on March 5, 2019. /VCG Photo

In Group F, former champions Guangzhou Evergrande had first-half goals from Anderson Talisca and Paulinho to thank for a 2-0 win over Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima, while South Korea's Daegu FC fell behind to an Ola Toivonen goal but fought back to hand Melbourne Victory a 3-1 defeat.

Daegu's Brazilian striker Cesinha thumped an effort from distance past keeper Lawrence Thomas to level just after the half hour mark before Hwang Soon-min's heavily deflected effort gave the Koreans the lead and Edgar completed the win.

Guangzhou Evergrande continue a stunning record after securing a 2-0 victory over Japanese rival Sanfrecce Hiroshima. /CGTN

Guangzhou Evergrande continue a stunning record after securing a 2-0 victory over Japanese rival Sanfrecce Hiroshima. /CGTN

In the west of the continent, a rampant second half performance from twice champions Al Ittihad saw the Saudi Arabia side hand Qatar's Al Rayyan a 5-1 thrashing in Group B.

World Cup striker Fahd Al Muwallad struck twice for the Jeddah club, who were joined on three points by Uzbekistan's Lokomotiv Tashkent after their 2-0 victory against Al Wahda of the United Arab Emirates.

Al Wasl fared better than their UAE compatriots as they notched up a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr with a Fabio Lima goal as Laurentiu Reghecampf's team lead Group A after Zobahan from Iran and Iraq's Al Zawraa shared a 0-0 draw.

Source(s): AP ,Reuters