YOKOHAMA – Yokohama F. Marinos collected their first point of the Asian Champions League with a 1-1 draw to champions Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday night at Nissan Stadium.
The Emperor’s Cup holders, who were thumped 3-0 away to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors last month in their first match of the campaign, held on for a point against Marcello Lippi’s side after Jin Hanato struck in the first half with Alessandro Diamanti leveling shortly before the break.
In the evening’s other Group F affair, Melbourne Victory drew 2-2 at home to 2006 champions Jeonbuk for their first point of the competition.
Marinos raced out to the lead in the 21st minute of their first ACL home game in nine years.
Last season’s J.League MVP Shunsuke Nakamura created the opportunity with a left-wing free kick for Hanato, who pounced on a loose ball inside the box to open his ACL account.
Guangzhou, however, didn’t give away much the rest of the way, restoring parity after 38 minutes thanks to the set-piece wizardry of Diamanti.
The Azzurri striker, who bagged a brace in a 4-2 home win over Melbourne on Feb. 26, took aim for the top right corner from just outside the box, the ball crossing the line off the underside of the bar.
Nakamura set up Hanato again in the 71st minute, but Guangzhou kept things square as Zeng Cheng saved a free header on the run by the Marinos speedster.
The champions had Marinos on the backfoot for much of the second half yet failed to find the net with Yokohama’s defense showing resilience and resolve.
Seven minutes to time, Zhang Linpeng thought he had put his team ahead when the center-half soared to nod down a cross by the far post.
But Marinos custodian Tetsuya Enomoto came to the rescue, parrying away Zhang’s effort in the nick of time as the two sides settled for a share of the spoils.