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Leagues: Asian Champions League

Damjanovic becomes Asian Champions League’s record scorer

Doha (AFP) – Dejan Damjanovic made history as the all-time highest scorer in the history of the Asian Champions League on Sunday but his spectacular accomplishment went in vain as Cerezo Osaka rallied from a goal down to beat Kitchee 2-1.

The 39-year-old forward, who played for top Chinese and South Korean sides before signing for Hong Kong’s leading club this season, struck in the 38th minute against Cerezo Osaka to record his 38th goal in the tournament, beating the previous record held by South Korean Lee Gong-gook.

Damjanovic had equalled Lee’s mark of 37 goals when he scored for Kitchee in their opening Group J match against Thailand’s Port FC on Thursday, helping his side grab three points with a 2-0 victory.

On Sunday, the Montenegrin displayed his trademark calmness to collect a pass from Brazilian Cleiton to slot home from 14 yards to put the Hong Kong League champions ahead in Buriram, Thailand.

It was almost a copy of the goal he had scored against Port FC but unlike on Thursday, he ended up on the losing side as Cerezo Osaka hit back twice in three minutes in the second half.

Cerezo Osaka drew level in the 69th minute when Kitchee goalkeeper Paulo Cesar parried the ball into Adam Taggart’s path off an attempt by Tatsuhiro Sakamoto and the Australian gleefully grabbed the chance to score.

Cesar bungled again two minutes later, letting the ball slip through his hands after Tiago Pagnussat tried his luck from well outside the penalty area.

The Japanese side missed a few opportunities after that but they were not complaining as they went top of the group with six points from two matches.

Also in Group J, Port FC thrashed depleted Guangzhou FC 3-0 to record their first-ever win in the competition.

Missing several stars, including players from the national side due to China’s strict coronavirus protocols, 2015 champions Guangzhou are fielding a largely under-23 side at this year’s event.

But their youngsters were found wanting yet again as they crashed to their second straight defeat, following their 2-0 loss to Cerezo Osaka on Thursday.

Elias Dolah put Port FC ahead in the 21st minute in Buriram as he took advantage of ample space in the defence to connect with Pakorn Prempakdee’s cross with a diving header past Guangzhou goalkeeper Zhang Jianzhi.

Pakorn was a constant threat to Guangzhou throughout and the enterprising midfielder got a goal of his own 15 minutes after the break.

Madagascar born John Baggio did most of the spadework before delivering a perfect cross for Pakorn who made no mistake with his header.

The Thais sealed the three points in the 74th minute when Phillip Roller smashed in a pass from Sergio Suarez, beating Zhang at his near post.

Zhang however denied Suarez from the penalty spot in stoppage time to end his miserable outing on a somewhat positive note.

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