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AFC Champions League Review: Victory, Al Hilal and Al Ain qualify with wins

Early goals from Besart Berisha and Archie Thompson helped Melbourne Victory to a 2-1 AFC Champions League win over Gamba Osaka that saw the A-League side progress to the round of 16 at the expense of Suwon Bluewings.

Berisha opened the scoring with a 13th-minute penalty in the Group G clash at AAMI Park and Thompson turned home Kosta Barbarouses’ cross three minutes later.

Ademilson scored from close range in the closing stages to set up a grandstand finish but Victory secured the win they required to pip Suwon, who defeated group winners Shanghai SIPG 3-0 as Kim Gunhee bagged a brace.

Both teams finished level on nine points but Victory’s away goal in the 1-1 draw in Korea proved decisive, prolonging the Victory career of retiring veteran and fan favourite Thompson.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Al Hilal secured a 2-1 win at Tractorsazi Tabriz to secure their passage from Group C alongside their hosts, with Brazilian striker Ailton coming off the bench to score the decisive goal.

It meant Pakhator’s 3-0 win over Al Jazira in Tashkent was in vain, with the Uzbek club finishing one point shy of second.

Urawa Reds could only draw 1-1 with Pohang Steelers, meaning they missed out on the opportunity to top Group H ahead of Sydney FC – 1-0 losers to departing champions Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.

Zlatan Ljubijankic netted a penalty three minutes from time after Pohang’s Lazar Veselinovic did likewise, while Gao Lin’s early volley was enough for Guangzhou to bow out with a consolation victory.

Al Ain’s 2-0 win over Nasaf in Group D saw them through as runners-up ahead of Al Ahli, who beat group winners El Jaish by the same scoreline.

Tue 3 May, 2016
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