Guangzhou Evergrande held to third ACL stalemate to frustrate Scolari
Chinese powerhouses Guangzhou Evergrande drew 0-0 away to Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday to slip into second place in Group G of the 2017 AFC Champions League.
It was the third successive stalemate for Luiz Felipe Scolari's men in the continental competition. It leaves the 2013 and 2015 winners on six points from four games, two behind new group leaders Suwon Samsung Bluewings, of South Korea.
Wet and windy conditions at the Todoroki Stadium in Japan may have contributed to an open game. But both teams struggled to create more than half-chances and shots from distance.
Yu Hanchao, Alan and Ricardo Goulart all forced saves out of Kawaski's Jung Sung-ryong in the first half, with the goalkeeper having to get down quickly to push a low Paulinho shot to safety.
Kawasaki looked more dangerous after the break and the hosts' best openings came midway into the second half.
First, Brazilian attacker Rhayner, dangerous throughout, saw his low shot from outside the area saved by Zeng Cheng in the Guangzhou goal. Seconds later, Zeng had to get down quickly to save a fierce shot from Tatsuya Hasegawa.
Suwon Samsung Bluewings eased into top spot with a 5-0 win over Eastern SC of Hong Kong.
Initially, the South Koreans enjoyed plenty of the ball, but struggled to break down a well-organised visiting defence.
Captain Yeom Ki-hun opened the scoring in the first half with Ko Seung-beom adding a second just after the hour. Soon after, Brazilian striker Jonathon netted twice in quick succession before grabbed his second and Suwon's fifth.
Eastern stay bottom of the group with one point, three behind Kawasaki in third.
Brisbane Roar kept their hopes of the knockout stage alive with a 2-1 win over Kashima Antlers in Group E.
With the Australians collecting just a point from the first three games, a good start against the eight-time Japanese champions was vital and they got just that after 19 minutes. Jamie Maclaren fired home a bouncing ball from the left side of the area past the despairing dive of Kwoun Sun-tae.
Four minutes into the restart, the A-League team doubled their lead as Brett Holman dinked the ball into the net from inside the area from a rebound off a Kwoun save.
After a lengthy scramble inside the Brisbane area 11 minutes from the end, substitute Ryota Nagaki fired home from close range to ensure a nervous finish.
Brisbane, who knocked out Carlos Tevez's Shanghai Shenhua in an ACL playoff in February, move to within two points of Kashima.
The defeat for Kashima allowed Thai underdogs Muang Thong United to go top of Group E after their second consecutive victory as they saw off Ulsan Hyundai in Nonthaburi.
International striker Teerasil Dangda scored the only goal of the match in the 37th minute as the Southeast Asian side maintained their unbeaten record, with two wins and three draws.
They lead the group on eight points, with Kashima Antlers second on six points, followed by Ulsan and Brisbane on four points apiece.
The Thais will host Brisbane on April 26 in their next Group E match while Ulsan will be at home to Kashima.
Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.