Published — Thursday 25 April 2013
Last update 25 April 2013 6:50 am
DOHA, Qatar: Qatar's El-Jaish beat Saudi Arabia's Al-Shabab in Doha on Wednesday, all the goals coming from Wagner Ribeiro, to reach the AFC Champions League last 16.
Al-Shabab's defeat in Group A of the league was accentuated by a fight between teammates Walid Jahdali and Marcelo Camacho, which prompted Nasser Al-Shamrani to intervene.
In the other AFC games, China’s Guangzhou Evergrande also scrambled into the last 16 despite a 3-2 loss to Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds in which they finished with 10 men and had coach Marcello Lippi sent to the stands.
In a dramatic encounter in Saitama, Japan, Urawa kept its title hopes alive heading into next week’s final group games, and also flirted with the three-goal victory margin which would have kept Guangzhou’s progression on hold.
Lippi, who led Italy to World Cup glory in 2006 and wants to make Guangzhou China’s first Asian champions in 23 years, let his frustrations show and was ordered from the touchline for kicking a water bottle as they went 3-1 down.
A controversial late effort from Muriqui — in which the referee missed a linesman’s flag for offside — eased Guangzhou’s worries, although they were also hit by a stoppage-time red card against defender Zhang Linpeng.
The evening’s events could still have consequences for Guangzhou, with Zhang and Lippi both now facing bans for next week’s game with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors as they aim to hang on to top spot in Group F and gain an easier last 16 draw.
Lippi did not appear at the post-match press conference but was replaced by assistant coach Massimiliano Maddaloni, who called it a “reasonable result.”
Urawa manager Mihailo Petrovic said his team richly deserved their win.
In the other Group F game, former Asian champions Jeonbuk beat Thailand’s Muangthong United 2-0 but were prevented from reaching the knock-out phase by Urawa’s surprise win.
The 2006 winners, now one point behind Urawa in third spot — with only the top two going through — face the difficult task of playing leaders Guangzhou in next week’s final group game, while Urawa face bottom club Muangthong.
In Group E, Thailand’s Buriram United was just seconds from a victory which would have put the team into the knock-outs before Japanese outfit Vegalta Sendai snatched a 1-1 draw in the 93rd minute.
Buriram’s Osmar Barba had glanced in a free kick in the 53rd minute and Theerathon Bunmathan hit the bar near the end but paid for some wasteful finishing when Takayuki Nakahara’s neat volley claimed a point for Sendai.
In the same group, K-League champions FC Seoul beat China’s Jiangsu Sainty 2-0 to safely reach the two-legged round of 16, which starts on May 14.
In the other Group A match, Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates made up for an earlier loss to Tractorsazi Tabriz with a 2-0 victory. But the win wasn’t enough for the UAE side to overtake El Jaish.
There is everything to play for with one round of matches in Group B, after Al Shabab Al Arabi of the United Arab Emirates came from a goal down to beat a 10-man Lekhwiya of Qatar 3-1. Lekhwiya could have advanced with a win but now will be hoping for a win against Al Ittifaq of Saudi Arabia in its final group match.
The Qatari side grabbed the lead in the 37th with a fine individual effort by Youssef Msakni late in the first half. But Al Shabab Al Arabi’s Essa Obaid leveled just seconds after the halftime interval before substitute Ciel put the home side ahead with a tap-in in the 77th minute.
Lekhwiya were reduced to 10 men when Sebastian Soria was dismissed for elbowing and Edgar (Edgar Bruno da Silva) capped the victory with a goal in stoppage time.
Just like Lekhwiya, Uzbek champions Pakhtakor failed to advance after it lost 2-0 to Al Ettifaq — leaving all four teams fighting for the two knockout spots.
Shehri gave the home side the lead midway through the first half with a shot from 30 meters and then Jamaan Al-Jamaan curled in the Saudi club’s second four minutes before the break to seal the three points.
With the win, Al Shabab Al Arabi moved up to six points, two behind Lekhwiya in a tight Group B, which will go down to the final round of games.