Adelaide United made an auspicious start to their 2010 AFC Champions League campaign after seeing off defending champion Pohang Steelers 1-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Teenage striker Matthew Leckie pressured Pohang defender Hee Chul to stab the ball past his own goalkeeper in the first-half of injury time after breaking from the halfway line following a Pohang corner.
But the rising 19-year-old Adelaide star was credited with the crucial goal by match officials, the ball possibly having deflected off him last.
Adelaide on good form
Despite finishing bottom of the A-League this season, United surprisingly fended off one of the tournament favourites, in a disappointing night for Korean teams.
The vital goal came out of nowhere with Leckie surrounded by defenders but managing to beat three of them before Hee Chul intercepted only to force the ball into his own net to thrill most of the 8374 fans.
Adelaide, who lost to Japan’s Gamba Osaka in the 2008 final, showed plenty of spirit against Pohang in a niggly Group H match which featured 38 fouls.
Asia’s top club competition got underway with eight games on Tuesday, a night that saw former Pohang striker Denilson among the goals for Uzbek giants Bunyodkur in their 3-0 demolition of Saudi powerhouse Al Ittihad.
Their target is the final in November, with the winner assured of a place in the FIFA Club World Cup.
In other matches on Wednesday, Japan’s Gamba Osaka ground out a well-deserved 0-0 draw in Korea against Suwon Bluewings in their opening Group G match.
Despite holding the K-League side on their own ground, Gamba will feel that they did enough to take all three points as it was the Japanese team who created the better openings.
In Hiroshima, Sanfrecce’s AFC Champions League debut ended in disappointment with a second-half strike by Han Peng enough for China’s Shandong Luneng to seal a 1-0 victory.
The Chinese international headed home a corner 13 minutes from time to help new boss Branko Ivankovic’s side get off to a winning start.
Chinese Super League underdogs Henan Jianye, meanwhile, drew 0-0 at home against Singapore Armed Forces on their competition debut in a tough group that will also see them face Suwon and Gamba.
In the other matches being played on Wednesday, Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor secured a 1-0 away victory over UAE side Al Ain. The Uzbek side opened their Group C account with three points thanks to a 59-minute strike from Artur Gevorkyan.
Meanwhile, Iranian powerhouse Foolad Sepahan drew 1-1 with Al Shabab in Saudi Arabia.
Midfielder Hosseini Seyed Jalal opened the scoring for the visitors in the 14th minute but Fisal Bin Sultan denied them victory with an equaliser 20 minutes from the end.
In Group D, Saudi side Al Hilal, coached by former Marseille manager and Belgian footballing great Eric Gerets, thumped Qatar’s Al Sadd 3-0 in Doha with striker Yasser Al-Qahtani grabbing the first two goals.
Brazilian Thiago Neves then completed the rout in the final minute when he finished from close range past goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb.
In the group’s other game on Wednesday, Iran’s Champions League newcomers Mes Kerman – who are battling against relegation domestically – convincingly beat Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates 4-2 with the Iranian side’s midfielder Mahdi Rajabzadeh scoring two.