Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao began the defence of their AFC Champions League title with an underwhelming goalless draw against Pohang Steelers.
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team won their second continental title in the past three seasons thanks to a 1-0 aggregate final win over Al Ahli but there was no way though against their Korean opponents, with Jackson Martinez enduring a frustrating debut in attack following his club record move from Atletico Madrid.
“Jackson Martinez has been with us 12 days only and it will take time for him settle in,” Scolari said afterwards. “We were not in the shape for playing real matches. We will work on it.
“A match every four days won’t kill us, but we will play in turns for four or five positions due to tactical reasons, not physical reasons.
“We are still two or three matches away from having the right season vibe back.”
In the other Group H match, Urawa Red Diamonds were deserved 2-0 winners at home to Sydney FC of the A-League.
Yuki Muto capitalised on a defensive mistake from Zac Anderson to reward a blistering start from Urawa, who made sure of victory when substitute Shinzo Koroki won and converted a 65th-minute penalty.
Besart Berisha netted decisively from the penalty spot with 17 minutes remaining as hosts Melbourne Victory overcame Shanghai SIPG 2-1 in Group G, where the match between Suwon Bluewings and Gamba Osaka ended goalless.
Jai Ingham opened the scoring for the hosts at AAMI Park before Wu Lei pulled Sven-Goran Eriksson’s team level early in the second half.
Iran’s Tractor Sazi stormed to a 4-0 victory against Al Jazira of the UAE in Group C, with Bakhtiar Rahmani and Shoja Khalilzadeh giving them a two-goal advantage within nine minutes.
Substitute Mehdi Sharifi added a third before Rahmani completed a brace as the hour approached, while group rivals Pakhtakor and Al Hilal played out a 2-2 draw.
A last-minute strike from Davronbek Khashimov ensured a share of the spoils for the home side at Pakhtakor Stadium.