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AFC Champions League wrap: Guangzhou close in on last 16

Guangzhou Evergrande bolstered their hold on top spot in the AFC Champions League Group F with a 4-1 rout of Muang Thong on Tuesday.

The Chinese Super League champions went ahead through a first-half double from Brazilian Muriqui and had further goals from Zheng Zhi and Feng Xiaoting after Sarawut Masuk had halved the deficit for the Thai champions.

Zheng set up Muriqui with a delightful ball for the first before Dario Conca produced a near carbon copy to gift the Brazilian his second.

Zheng’s failed clearance eventually fell in front of Masuk as he halved the lead on 54 minutes with a header but he atoned for his error three minutes later with a right-foot finish and also set up the fourth goal.

Evergrande lead Group F on 10 points from Jeonbuk Motors (six) and Urawa Reds (four), who drew 2-2, while Muang Thong are bottom with one point.

Australian side the Central Coast Mariners surrendered a first-half lead to go down 2-1 to Guizhou Renhe with a largely second-string side.

Mitchell Duke’s first-half penalty looked to have sealed a crucial, and perhaps unexpected, three points for the Mariners, until two quality goals inside two minutes lifted under-fire Guizhou to a vital win.

Zlatan Muslimovic lifted spirits among the frustrated hosts when he fired into the far corner on 84 minutes and substitute Qu Bo completed the turnaround with the winner from a tight angle two minutes later.

The win moves Guizhou off the foot of the table and level with the Mariners on four points in Group H, six behind leaders Kashiwa Reysol, who were held to a goalless draw by Suwon Bluewings (three points).

In Group B, Qatari side Lekhwiya and Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor played out a 2-2 draw in a top-two battle.

Leaders Lekhwiya went ahead through Sebastian Soria and Youssef Msakni made it 2-2 in the second half after Gulom Urunov and Dame Traore struck for Pakhtakor.

Al Ittifaq thrashed Al Shabab 4-1 to jump into third on the group table, though they still trail second-placed Pakhtakor by three points.

In Group D, Al Rayyan picked up their first win of the tournament with a 2-1 victory over Al Ain, while Al Hilal closed the gap to leaders Esteghlal to one point thanks to a 1-0 triumph.

Tue 9 Apr, 2013
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