By Michael Church
(Reuters) – Two-time winner Jeonbuk Motors booked his place for the round of 16 of the Asian Champions League in Tashkent on Wednesday after a 3-1 win over Chiangrai United as Japan’s Cerezo Osaka also confirmed his place in the next round.
Mo Barrow and Park Jin-seong scored on either side of an own goal from goalkeeper Apirak Worawong to give Jeonbuk a comfortable lead in the first 35 minutes as Kim Sang-sik’s side took the win. .
With one round of matches remaining in Group H, the victory means the best Jeonbuk cannot be overtaken, with Japan’s Gamba Osaka confirming second place with an 8-1 loss to the Tampines Rovers.
Shuhei Kawasaki scored a hat-trick for the J-League side against the Singaporeans, who have now conceded 24 goals in five games.
However, the Pohang Steelers will have to wait to see if they advance to the round of 16 after drawing a 1-1 draw in Bangkok with Nagoya Grampus already qualified in Group G.
Borys Tashchy took advantage of a defensive error two minutes from time to draw the South Koreans and take Pohang to 11 points in six games.
The winners of each of the five groups contested in the East Asian half of the competition advance to the round of 16, where they will be joined by the three teams with the best records of finalists.
Wednesday’s results mean Group J leaders Cerezo Osaka advance to the final 16, regardless of the outcome of their meeting with Kitchee on Friday.
Levir Culpi’s side have 13 points and, even if they lose to the champions Hong Kong and finish second, that total will be enough to take one of the best second places.
The Asian Champions League group stage matches for clubs in the eastern part of the continent are currently played at biosecure hubs in Thailand and Uzbekistan.
The West Asian teams finished their group stage commitments in April and the round of 16 of the tournament is scheduled for September 14-16.
The quarter-finals and semi-finals matches will take place at centralized venues in October and the final will be played on November 23.
(Reporting by Michael Church, editing by Toby Davis)