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Esteghlal, Guangzhou open 2nd round with away wins

May 15, 2013

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Esteghlal, Lekhwiya, Guangzhou Evergrande and Kashiwa Reysol all scored victories Wednesday in a successful night for the away teams in the first leg of the Asian Champions League’s Round of 16.

Khosro Haideri scored a goal and set up another as Iran Pro League champion Esteghlal rallied to beat Dubai-based Al Shabab Al Arabi 4-2, Guangzhou beat Australian A-League champion Central Coast Mariners 2-1 at Gosford, Qatari club Lekhwiya edged Saudi heavyweight Al Hilal 1-0 at Riyadh and the J-League’s Kashiwa Reysol had a comfortable 2-0 win at Jeonbuk Motors in South Korea.

At Dubai, Al Shabab opened the scoring when Brazilian Luiz Enrique found the back of the Esteghlal net just before the break.

Former Aston Villa and Bolton defender Jlloyd Samuel equalized early in the second half, and Esteghlal went ahead when Javad Nekonam headed in a cross from Haideri.

Skipper Farhad Majidi’s header made it 3-1 before the home team, playing without the suspended Walid Abbas, Hassan Ibrahim, Mahmoud Kassem and Mohammed Marzouq, pegged one back when Bruno headed in a well-taken corner in the 84th minute.

But just two minutes from time, Haideri’s volley gave Esteghlal a fourth goal ahead of the return fixture at Tehran next Wednesday.

“I really want to thank all the fans who came here to support us,” Esteghlal coach Amir Ghalenoei said. “In Iran, we have a saying that the fans are your 12th man and the fans played their part tonight. If this match was on Friday, I believe the whole stadium would have been full of Iranian fans.

“We still have the second leg in Tehran and that game will be very important. So we cannot afford to relax.”

The match at Riyadh seemed destined for a goalless draw until Tunisian Youssef Msakni’s deflected goal in the 82nd minute handed Lekhwiya the away win.

At Gosford, the Mariners scored first through Mitchell Duke, but goals to South American pair Lucas Barrios and Muriqui ensured victory for the Chinese Super League champions.

Guangzhou, helped by an investment of more than $60 million, has won the last two Chinese titles and was narrowly defeated in the 2012 Asian Champions League quarterfinals. Mariners operate under a salary cap of $2.48 million.

“There’s a huge difference between the budgets and the quality in the front part of the field,” Mariners coach Graham Arnold said. “But again I was very proud of the performance and we’ll go over there and give it our best shot.”

In Jeonju, South Korea, Masato Kudo and Tatsuya Masushima scored for Kashiwa, the only Japanese club still in contention.

“We are only halfway there and leading 2-0,” Kudo said. “Hopefully we can take advantage of being at home in the next game and finish the job.”

The round of 16 is now played over two legs with the group runners-up hosting the first leg.

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