Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) – Australia’s Brisbane Roar kept their Asian Champions League hopes flickering with a 2-1 win over Japanese champions Kashima Antlers in Brisbane on Wednesday.
Goals from striker Jamie Maclaren and midfielder Brett Holman gave Brisbane a 2-0 lead before Kashima pulled a goal back near the end.
It was Brisbane’s first win of the campaign and took their points tally to four, just two behind Group E leaders Kashima.
“That’s a huge win for us,” Roar’s Danish midfielder Thomas Kristensen said.
“I saw them on television not long ago playing against Real Madrid and they probably should have won that game, so we know it was a quality squad.
“But we also believe in our team and we have some good players, so we deserved to win.”
Maclaren lashed home with his left foot after a defensive error from Naomichi Ueda to put the Roar ahead after 18 minutes.
It was Brisbane’s first goal in four ACL group games this season.
Former Socceroo Holman doubled Brisbane’s lead four minutes after the resumption, with an instinctive shot off a set-piece.
Kashima pulled one back 11 minutes from the end when substitute Ryota Nagaki blasted home as the Roar defence failed to clear their lines.
It was only Brisbane’s third win in 16 games in the AFC Champions League and it gave them renewed hope of qualifying for the knockout rounds if they can get a result against Muangthong United in Thailand in two weeks’ time.
Kashima face Ulsan Hyundai Motors in South Korea in their next match.
In Group G, Suwon Bluewings of South Korea took pole position to qualify as they all but eliminated Hong Kong side Eastern with a 5-0 home hammering in the Suwon World Cup Stadium.
But China’s Guangzhou Evergrande had to settle for a share of the points in a dour 0-0 draw on a wet night in Japan at Kawasaki Frontale.
Yeom Ki-Hun’s close-range header gave the Korean side a slender 1-0 half-time lead but they outclassed the Hong Kong debutants with a classy second-half display as Ko Seung-Beom grabbed two more and and Brazilian marksman Johnathan came off the bench to score twice in three minutes.
The Bluewings lead the group on eight points from four matches, two ahead of Guangzhou, and will be guaranteed to fly into the knockout stages if they can avoid defeat at home to Kawasaki in their next match on April 25.
Eastern have just one point in their first Champions League campaign and must now win at home to Evergrande on the same night and hope other results go their way to stay alive.
The prospect of victory would seem slim, however, given that the hapless Hong Kongers were embarrassed 7-0 when the teams met in Guangzhou in February.