Soccer-Draw takes Yokohama into Asia's last 16 as Kitchee make history
By Michael Church
HONG KONG, May 1 (Reuters) - Japan's Yokohama F Marinos sealed their spot in the knockout rounds of the Asian Champions League on Sunday as a 1-1 draw with two-time winners Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea took both clubs into the last 16.
Kitchee joined the pair in the next round after their dramatic 2-2 draw with Vissel Kobe ensured the Hong Kong champions advanced alongside the Japanese side, who won Group J despite sharing the points with Alex Chu's side.
Each of the five group winners in the east plus the three best runners-up progress to the next round and the results mean Yokohama will take on Kobe in the last 16 in mid-August while Jeonbuk will meet Daegu FC in an all-South Korean affair.
Kitchee, meanwhile, play Thailand's BG Pathum United, who clinched Group G on Saturday.
Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim will look to take another huge scalp when they face former champions Urawa Red Diamonds from Japan having already knocked out two-time winners Ulsan Hyundai and reigning J-League champions Kawasaki Frontale on Saturday.
Yokohama needed to avoid defeat against Jeonbuk in Group H in Ho Chi Minh City to be sure of going through and had the perfect start when Anderson Lopes slotted home to give them a fourth minute lead.
But Kim Bo-kyung's volley through the legs of goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka levelled the scores seven minutes later and set up a nervy conclusion for the 2019 Japanese champions, who held on despite seeing Jeonbuk's Gustavo hit the crossbar.
Kitchee became the first club from Hong Kong to reach the last 16 when they twice came from behind to secure a point against Vissel Kobe as striker Dejan Damjanovic rewrote the history books once again.
The former Montenegro international extended his all-time scoring record in the competition when he netted his 42nd Asian Champions League goal from the penalty spot in first half injury time after Kobe's Lincoln opened the scoring moments earlier.
Kobe looked set to break Kitchee hearts when former Newcastle United striker Yoshinori Muto put his side ahead in the 87th minute, but Raul Baena's injury time header earned the Hong Kong champions the point that ensures they advance.
Matches in the round of 16 for east Asian will be played in a centralised venue on Aug. 18 and 19 with the quarter-finals and semi-finals to be played on Aug. 22 and 25 respectively.
Teams in the west of Asia will play the knockout rounds in February 2023, with the final to be played over two legs on Feb. 19 and 26.
(Reporting by Michael Church)
((Michael.Church@thomsonreuters.com; +852 9023 4874;))