HONG KONG (Reuters) - Alexandre Pato underlined his importance to Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian on Tuesday when the Brazilian came off the bench to score a late equaliser against Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol, maintaining their unbeaten start in the Asian Champions League.
The former Chelsea and AC Milan striker had been left out of the starting line-up by coach Paulo Sousa in response to the Brazilian’s angry reaction at being replaced during last week’s win over Kitchee from Hong Kong.
But his introduction shortly before halftime eventually paid off for Tianjin, who struggled to find a foothold in the game and fell behind to a 52nd minute goal from Cristiano.
Pato struck with two minutes remaining to ensure Tianjin are unbeaten after two games.
“I’m satisfied with the performance of Pato,” said Sousa. “He settled into the game quickly and he showed a great attitude.
“We could see that he’s in good shape and I’m glad that he could help the team.”
Tianjin occupy second place in Group E on four points, two behind former champions Jeonbuk Motors who handed Diego Forlan’s Kitchee a 6-0 thrashing.
Brazilian striker Adriano claimed a hat-trick — including two penalties — while 38-year-old striker Lee Dong-gook was also on target.
There was a big win, too, for Shanghai SIPG with Vitor Pereira’s side beating Melbourne Victory 4-1 as the Australian side continue their search for a first-ever win away from home in the competition.
Former Chelsea midfielder Oscar scored twice after Hulk had given SIPG the lead from the penalty spot. The Chinese Super League side are now two points clear of South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai at the top of Group F.
Ulsan overcame Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 to claim their first win of the continental campaign. Kawasaki, meanwhile, have now lost their opening two fixtures.
In the western half of the draw, goals from Taisir Al Jassim and Muhannad Assiri secured a 2-1 win for Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli over Al Jazira to move top in Group A.
Qatar’s Al Gharafa defeated Tractor Sazi in the group’s other game to leave the Iranian side rooted to the bottom of the standings.
There was better news for fellow Iranians Zob Ahan in Group B who picked up their first win of the campaign to see off Lokomotiv Tashkent from Uzbekistan. Group leaders Al Duhail of Qatar strengthened their position with a 3-2 victory over Al Wahda of the UAE.
Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge