JEONJU, South Korea (AP) — Brazilian striker Muriqui scored twice as Guangzhou Evergrande downed Thailand's Muangthong 4-1 Tuesday to move a step closer to reaching the knockout stage of the Asian Champions League.
Marcello Lippi's side is now top of Group F, four points clear of Jeonbuk Motors. which came from behind in a 2-2 draw against Japanese club Urawa Reds.
Muriqui scored in the 37th minute, reaching Zheng Zhi's through ball and rolling it beyond goalkeeper Weera Koedpudsa. Three minutes later, the Brazilian scored again after latching onto a pass from Dario Conca.
Muangthong cut the lead when Siaka Dagno blocked Zheng's clearance and Sarawut headed home the loose ball.
But the Chinese Super League Champions restored their advantage three minutes later when Zheng made up for his earlier mistake with a low shot from outside the area. Zheng launched a free kick five minutes later that Weera parried and Feng swept into the net.
"I am satisfied with the team's performance," Lippi said. "We were organized, competitive and fully focused throughout the game. The team followed the tactics and did not leave any space for Muangthong to attack."
In South Korea, Eninho and Seo Sang-min scored second-half goals as Jeonbuk Motors rallied for a 2-2 draw against Japanese club Urawa Reds.
Daisuke Nasu and Tsukasa Umesaki scored in the first half but Eninho pulled one back for the hosts six minutes after the break and Seo equalized in stoppage time to salvage a point for Jeonbuk.
Guizhou Renhe kept alive its slim hopes of reaching the knockout stage with a 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners in Group H.
Mitchel Duke gave the Mariners the lead from a penalty in the 43rd, but goals from Zlatan Muslimovic and substitute Qu Bo in the final six minutes sealed the Chinese side's first-ever ACL win.
"It was a very tough but entertaining game," said Li Chun Man, Guizhou's assistant coach. "Our players didn't give up when we were behind in the first half, and in the second half when more attacking was needed, we adjusted our tactics in time and finally won the game."
Guizhou has four points, one ahead of Suwon Bluewings and level with the Mariners. Kashiwa Reysol remains top of the group after a 0-0 draw with Suwon.
Qatar's Lekhwiya remained undefeated and top of Group B after battling to a 2-2 draw with Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan.
Sebastian Soria's fourth goal of the campaign put Lekhwiya ahead with only 15 seconds gone but Gulom Urunov drew the Uzbekis level midway through the first half when he volleyed into the net. An own goal from Dame Traore just after halftime gave Pakhtakor the lead, but Youssef Msakni equalized for the Qataris in the 67th.
In the other Group B encounter, Saudi Arabia's Al Ettifaq won its first match of the campaign with a 4-1 victory over 10-man Al Shabab of the United Arab Emirates. Saleh Bashir scored in each half.
The win leaves Al Ettifaq third, three points behind Pakhtakor with two matches remaining.
Group D was left wide open after Saudi side Al Hilal stunned Iran's Esteghlal 1-0 and Qatar's Al Rayyan downed Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates 2-1. That leaves all four teams within three points of each other.
Al Abid scored the winner for Al Hilal in the 34th, taking advantage of some bad defending from Esteghlal. Javad Nekounam attempted to clear just inside the penalty area but hit the back of teammate Hanif Omranzadeh. The ball broke kindly for Al Abid, who beat goalkeeper Mahdi Rahmati from inside the six-yard area.
In Qatar, Jaralla al-Marri scored with four minutes remaining to earn Al Rayyan its first win of the campaign and keep its chances of advancing to the knockout stage alive.
Brazilian forward Nilmar gave Al Rayyan the lead in the 59th, receiving a pass from Rodrigo Tabata and slotting home the goal. Yousef Ahmed drew Al Ain level 12 minutes later. and it appeared that Alex Brosque had given Al Ain the victory but his shot hit the crossbar from close range.
Al Rayyan launched a counterattack with Tabata again feeding Nilmar. The Brazilian's shot was saved by Mahmood al-Mas but al-Marri was there to tap it in.