BEIJING (Reuters) – Guangzhou R&F and Beijing Guoan won their AFC Champions League playoffs on Tuesday to advance to the group stage, strengthening the Chinese presence in the continent’s premier club competition.
China international Jiang Ning scored after eight minutes and provided a second-half assist for Lu Lin as Guangzhou defeated Australia’s Central Coast Mariners 3-1 to secure their maiden appearance in the tournament.
A brace for Pablo Batalla and a goal from Song Boxuan took Beijing to a 3-0 win over Thai FA Cup winners Bangkok Glass as the Chinese Super League runners-up made it a seventh appearance in the tournament in eight seasons.
Guangzhou will join Japan’s Gamba Osaka, South Korea’s Seongnam FC and Thai Buriram United in Group F while Beijing will play Australia’s Brisbane Roar, Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds and South Korean Suwon Bluewings in Group G.
Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande and FA Cup winners Shandong Luneng are the other Chinese teams in the competition. Continental powerhouses Japan and South Korea also have four sides through.
Asian Cup winners Australia have two while Vietnam and Thailand have one club each.
“We scored very fast and this opened the game up, then it was more difficult to attack us as we had more space and we have players who can make very good counter-attacks,” Guangzhou coach Cosmin Contra, who replaced Sven-Goran Eriksson in December, told reporters at Central Coast Stadium.
“We were lucky on some occasions as they pushed very hard in the second half.”
Josh Rose conceded a bizarre own goal for the Australian side when his over-hit back pass from inside his own half wrong-footed the goalkeeper with less than two minutes remaining.
Glen Trifiro scored a stoppage-time free kick for the hosts to reduce the margin.
2013 finalists FC Seoul proved too strong for Hanoi T&T, scoring four goals in the first half on the way to a 7-0 thrashing of the Vietnamese team.
Seoul advanced to Group H where they will face defending champions Western Sydney Wanderers, 2013 winners Guangzhou Evergrande and Japanese side Kashima Antlers.
Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol needed a second goal from Brazilian striker Leandro in extra-time to beat Thailand’s Chonburi 3-2 after the match ended 2-2 in regulation.
Kashiwa twice took the lead but the plucky Thai outfit came back both times before Leandro’s header secured their passage to Group E alongside former champions Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea, China’s Shandong and Vietnamese side Binh Duong.