Japan giants get crucial first wins in AFC Champions League

Japan giants get crucial first wins in AFC Champions League

Hiroyuki Takasaki popped up with last-minute winner in Kashima Antlers’s key 2-1 win over Guangzhou Evergrande to keep their AFC Champions League hopes alive.

The J.League side had struggled on the continent, losing their previous three games in Group H to sit bottom, but grabbed a vital win against their Chinese opponents on Tuesday.

Yasushi Endo tucked home from the penalty spot to put Antlers into a 19th minute lead, with substitute Taskashi’s dramatic headed winner well into stoppages erasing Evergrande’s temporary equaliser through Elkeson.

The win is a welcome boost for Toninho Cerezo’s outfit, who must now gain results against other group rivals Western Sydney Wanderers and FC Seoul to stand any chance of progress to the ACL last 16.

Gamba Osaka also had a similar tale when substitute Kotaro Omori netted the winner in their 2-1 away victory at Group F leaders Buriram United.

The Japanese champions found themselves travelling to Thailand urgently needing points after previously going winless in the first three games.

And Gamba rallied despite falling behind in the first 10 minutes after conceding directly from Theerathon Bunmathan’s corner, forward Lins equalising in the 40th minute before Omori fired home the clincher on a volley.

The three points puts Kenta Hasegawa’s men level on four points with next Group F opponents Guangzhou R&F, and hopeful of stealing the advantage in China in two weeks’ time.