Champions League time

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A little late to the party I know but this week final places were decided for the group stages of the Asian Champions League. It was then to be three out of four as Melbourne Victory stunned Kashima Antlers to defeat the J League side 1-0 

No masks but a win from SPIG

An empty stadium but no masks from the players were seen inside the Yuanshen Sports Centre Stadium as Shanghai SIPG overcame Buriram United with all three goals coming in the final 15 minutes. The CSL side will now face a tough group with Jeonbuk, Yokohama F. Marinos and Sydney FC.

Despite it taking till the 75th-minute SIPG played at the higher tempo all game and deserved to run out 3-0 winners.

Following the match, the coach Bandović of the Thai side Buriram United seemed to suggest his side sat back too much as he was quoted as saying "First of all, congratulations to the SIPG team on qualifying for the AFC Champions League! Today's game, our team defended before the first goal was conceded. Only after our first goal conceded, the match became more open, resulting in two more goals conceded.

There is a problem in today's game. Our players are too nervous and they have not let go. This is where we need to strengthen. In addition, the quality of the game is indeed a good experience for young players."

Moving on from that the only K League side in action where FC Seoul as they took on Tai Po conquers Kedah and they made light work of the Malaysians as they run out 4-1 winners.

The goals in the match came from a first-half Park Chu-Young penalty which was followed by second-half goals from Park Dong-Jin, an Osmar own goal and an injury-time goal for Alibaev.

Mixed emotions for the J League 

It was then to the J League and Japnese sides have had mixed emotions towards the Champions League in recent years but am sure both FC Tokyo and Kashima Antlers were keen to progress. It was to only be the J League runners up from the capital who did though.

Then to Kashima Antlers as they hosted Melbourne Victory it was expected they would run out winners over the A-League side. This was not to be the case as the former  Urawa Reds attacker Andrew Nabbout scored with a lovely strike from just outside the box.

Here was to be the first-ever away win for the Australians which is a run dating back just the 22 matches.

In better news, FC Tokyo who where very close to becoming Japanese champions last year made the group stages as they overcame Ceres of the Philippines 2-0.

The goals in this match came from Muroya and Adailton as the J League side won after going down to ten men for the final ten minutes. The state of the pitch was terrible in this match and resembled the Tokyo Olympic swimming pool more than it did a football pitch.

Then with that in mind despite it not being the best match, FC Tokyo did well to get through the match and they can look forward to bigger matches ahead. This will be seen as the East Asian sides start the group stages of the Champions League on the 11th of February. 

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