The group stage of the 2018 AFC Champions League concluded this week, with just one Japanese club advancing to the Round of 16 after an overall disappointing showing in the continental competition.
Needing a result at Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday night to escape Group G, Cerezo Osaka recovered from an early deficit to equalise 1-1 through Takaki Fukumitsu’s effort. But Brazilian striker Alan was too much for the Cerezo defense to contain as the Chinese side romped to a 3-1 win. Buriram United’s 1-0 win at Jeju United saw Cerezo finish in third place with eight points.
Kashima Antlers, who were already guaranteed a spot in the knockout stage, lost 0-1 to Suwon Bluewings, finishing runners-up in Group H. Their opponents in the Round of 16 will be Shanghai SIPG, whose semifinal run last season ended against Urawa Reds.
Playing on Wednesday, Kawasaki Frontale ended their Group F campaign without a win after drawing 2-2 against Ulsan Hyundai. Kashiwa Reysol, who were eliminated from Group E after the fifth round, lost 2-3 at Tianjin Quanjian to finish in third place.
The Round of 16 will take place next month, with Antlers playing at Kashima Stadium on May 9 and in Shanghai on May 16.