JDT’s La’Vere Corbin-Ong (right) in action against Kawasaki Frontale at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Johor April 24, 2022. — Picture via Facebook
HONG KONG, April 25 — Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale moved to the top of the Group I standings in the Asian Champions League on Sunday when a Yu Kobayashi brace helped Toru Oniki’s side to thrash hosts Johor Darul Ta’zim 5-0.
Kawasaki are now a point clear of JDT and two-time champions Ulsan Hyundai, who beat Guangzhou FC 5-0 to keep alive their hopes of a place in the knockout rounds.
Only the five group winners in east Asia are sure to advance to the last 16, where they will be joined by the three runners-up with the best records.
Yasuto Wakizaka gave Kawasaki the lead 14 minutes into the game with a curling free kick that goalkeeper Farizal Marlias could only push on to the post before it crossed the line.
Kobayashi doubled the advantage just after the half-hour mark from close range before adding his second goal of the game 12 minutes later when he scored with a side-footed volley.
Late goals from Marcinho and Chanathip Songkrasin completed the scoring for the J1 League side.
Ulsan had earlier brushed aside Guangzhou FC with a ruthless second-half showing at the Larkin Stadium.
Yun Il-lok put Ulsan in front in the fourth minute from inside the penalty area and Mark Koszta, Valeri Kaaishvili, Jun Amano and Seol Young-woo all scored after the interval to give the South Koreans a comfortable margin of victory.
Lion City Sailors’ 3-2 win over Shandong Taishan means there is a three-way tie at the top of Group F, with the Singaporean side level on seven points with Daegu FC and Urawa Red Diamonds.
Urawa and Daegu played out a 0-0 draw while Lion City Sailors needed goals from Song Ui-young, Pedro Henrique and Maxime Lestienne to defeat an inexperienced Shandong side.
BG Pathum United won 3-1 against United City FC from the Philippines thanks to Ikshan Fandi’s first-half brace to sit on top of Group G with 10 points, two more than second-placed Melbourne City.
Patrick Kisnorbo’s side were denied a win over South Korea’s Jeonnam Dragons in dramatic fashion when Jamie Maclaren’s 89th-minute strike was cancelled out by Nika Kacharava’s lob over Tom Glover three minutes later. — Reuters