Kashima Antlers advanced to the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League for the first time in a decade as Go Oiwa’s side knocked Chinese Super League leaders Shanghai SIPG out of the continental championship, despite losing 2-1 on Wednesday evening. The J-League side progress with a 4-3 aggregate win and join Suwon Bluewings in next week’s draw for the last eight after the two-time Asian champions handed fellow South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai a 3-0 defeat on Wednesday to complete a 3-1 aggregate win.
The pair advance along with China’s Tianjin Quanjian and two-time winners Jeonbuk Motors, who booked their places on Tuesday, in the eastern half of the quarter-final draw, which will be made in Kuala Lumpur next Wednesday.
Iran’s Esteghlal have also advanced after they saw off compatriots Zob Ahan to join fellow Tehran-based club Persepolis in the quarter-finals while Al Duhail ensured there are two Qatari clubs in the draw after their 8-3 aggregate win over Al Ain saw them advance alongside Al Sadd.
Kashima went into Wednesday evening’s meeting with Shanghai holding a 3-1 lead from the first leg but a goal by Brazilian star Hulk reduced the deficit for SIPG just seven minutes into the game.
Shoma Doi scored from close range to secure a crucial away goal for Antlers three minutes before the interval and although Hulk claimed a second from the penalty spot with nine minutes remaining, Kashima did enough to progress after failing in the Round of 16 on four of their last fiveattempts.
“I’m very sorry that we lost today’s game, but we have finally made it through to the next round and I’m very satisfied with that,” said Oiwa.
“We played very well and if we had managed to score a second goal we would have been in control of the game. It’s a pity we didn’t, but I’m still satisfied and that we’ve finally managed to go through to the next round.”
Suwon, meanwhile, bounced back from a 1-0 first leg loss against Ulsan with Kim Gun-hee’s double ensuring Seo Jung-won’s side claimed a 3-0 win that keeps them on track for a first continental title since winning the second of back-to-back Asian Club Championship wins in 2002.
Al Duhail backed up their first leg 4-2 thrashing of former champions Al Ain with another comprehensive win over the 2016 finalists as the club from Doha hammered the United Arab Emirates’ champions 4-1 to complete an 8-3 aggregate victory.
Youssef Al Arabi scored twice for Djamel Belmadi’s side as they saw off the 2003 champions, with Ismaeel Mohamed also on the scoresheet for an Al Duhail side who took the lead thanks to an own goal from Mohamed Ahmed.
And Tehran giants Esteghlal secured their place in the last eight for the first time since 2013 as a hat-trick from Mame Baba Thiam overturned a 1-0 deficit from the first leg against Zobahan in an all-Iranian affair to progress with a 3-2 aggregate win.
Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Toby Chopra