• Kyodo

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Defending J. League champion Gamba Osaka took a major stride towards becoming the first Japanese team to reach the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League with a comfortable 3-0 win over China’s Dalian Shide in Group E on Wednesday night.

Gamba, which registered an ACL record-equaling 15-0 win over Vietnam’s Da Nang in its previous game, took the lead through a Yasuhito Endo penalty after 48 minutes at Expo Stadium before a double from in-form Brazilian striker Magno Alves killed off the Chinese champion.

The result moved Gamba to the top of Group E on six points ahead of South Korea’s Chonbuk Motors and Dalian on goal difference after three games played.

South Korean F.A. Cup winner Chonbuk overpowered winless Da Nang in the group’s other match thanks to goals from Milton Rodriguez, Kim Hyeung Bum and second-half substitute Botti.

The top teams from each of the seven groups advance to the quarterfinals where two-time champion Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia joins the fray.

The eventual winner will be rewarded with a top prize of $600,000 and a spot in the lucrative FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December.

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