TOKYO (AP) – Japan's Kashima Antlers joined South Korean clubs Suwon Bluewings and Jeonbuk Hyundai in the last 16 of the Asian Champions League by winning in Tuesday's next-to-last round of the group stage.
Al Sadd also booked its place in the final 16 after coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Esteghlal of Iran in a Group B match while Zobahan of Iran got past Emirates of the UAE in a Group D match to ensure its place in the knockout stage.
Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan also moved closer to the knockout stage with a 3-2 victory over Al Ittihad in a Group C match while Iran's Piroozi kept its slim chances of advancing alive in the same group with 3-2 victory over Saudi Arabia's Al-Ittihad, which leads the group. Piroozi's victory was marred by hundreds of Iranian fans, who fought with police and chanted anti-Saudi slogans.
In Group H, Shinzo Koroki scored twice to give Kashima a 2-0 win over Shanghai Shenhua, eliminating the Chinese team.
In the other game in the group, 2001 and 2002 champion Suwon defeated Sydney 3-1 to knock the Australian side out.
Suwon and Kashima both have nine points and an identical head-to-head record, but Suwon has a better goal difference by one going into the last round, when the Antlers host Sydney and the Bluewings travel to Shanghai.
Top spot will be critical, as it will bring home advantage in the next round.
In Group G, Jeonbuk won 2-1 at China's Shandong Luneng to advance. South Korea striker Lee Dong-gook scored first in the 31st and hit the winner in the 52nd after Zhou Haibin had equalized for Shandong in the 40th.
Group rival Cerezo Osaka moved past Shandong into second place by winning 4-0 at Indonesia's Arema. Shandong must win at Cerezo in the last round to claim second place ahead of the Japanese club.
Kashima overcame the absence of several injured players to win a game played during the day at Tokyo's National Stadium to preserve energy in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
Koroki headed the Antlers ahead in the 32nd minute, and the striker doubled the advantage when he pounced on a rebound in the 81st.
Suwon went ahead against Sydney when Ha Tae-gyun headed in a free kick in the 33rd minute, and they looked to have the game in their keeping when Croatian center back Mato Neretljak curled in a free kick in the 50th.
However, Sydney immediately went down the other end and scored through Brazilian forward Bruno Cazarine and then missed a prime opportunity to equalize by failing to convert from a three-on-one breakaway.
Suwon substitute Yeom Gi-hoon sent a long-range shot past the goalkeeper in the 80th minute to make sure of the three points.
In east Java, Cerezo took the lead against Arema in the 30th minute from midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake's goal, and made it 2-0 in the 42nd through Brazilian striker Rodrigo Pimpao.
Arema - which is stuck in a form rut both in continental and local leagues - had its comeback hopes snuffed out in the opening minute of the second half when Takashi Inui made it 3-0. Inui added his second goal and his side's fourth in the 61st minute.
Milos Trifunovic's double helped the Uzbek side Bunyodkor earn a hard-fought victory that ended Al Wahda's chances of advancing.
Al Wahda's Ismaeil Matar had given the visitors a second-minute lead but Trifunovic leveled nine minutes later before giving Bunyodkor a halftime lead.
Hugo equalized from the spot early in the second-half for Al Wahda but Anvarjon Soliev's header six minutes from time sealed the points for Mirjalal Kasimov's side.
In the other Group C match, Piroozi's Hamidreza Aliasgari had a brace as the Iranian side ended Al Ittihad's unbeaten streak in the competition.
Aliasgari struck in the 14th minute followed two minutes later by a goal from Shpejtim Arifi to give Piroozi a 2-0 lead. The Saudis though, pulled a goal back three minutes later when Mohammed Al Rashed's header found the back of the net.
Aliasgari restored Piroozi's two-goal lead in the 69th minute before the visitors made it 3-2 through a stoppage-time own goal from Sekou Berthe.
In Doha, Esteghlal's skipper Farhad Majidi struck twice in the first half to send the visitors into an early lead. But Group B leader Al Sadd came back in the second half to earn a tie.
Nine minutes into the second-half, the home side pulled one goal back when striker Leandro chipped a pass into the area and Khalfan Ibrahim stormed into the box, stopped the ball with his left foot and fired home. It leveled the match in the 76th minute when Ibrahim played a cross to substitute Hasan Haydos, who dribbled past one defender and scored with his left foot.
In Group D, Mohammad Ghazi's goal 10 minutes from time gave Zobahan a 1-0 win away at Emirates and helped the club clinch top spot. It also leaves Emirates, the only team not playing in the top flight, needing a victory in its final group match to have any chance of advancing.
In the other Group D match, Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia beat Al Rayyan of Qatar 1-0 to move into second in the group.