SUITA, Osaka Pref. – Masato Yamazaki struck twice to push Gamba Osaka closer to a place in the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League with a 2-0 win over Australia’s Melbourne Victory on Wednesday.
Victory preserved Gamba’s unbeaten run in the competition and kept Akira Nishino’s side top of Group G with 10 points from four games.
Thailand’s Chonburi hosted South Korea’s Chunnam Dragons in a later Group G game. Melbourne were eliminated.
Yamazaki broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark at Expo Stadium and completed his brace to wrap up victory early in the second period.
J. League champions Kashima Antlers and Gamba are both aiming to reach the knockout stage for the first time after being eliminated in their only previous ACL appearances in 2003 and 2006, respectively.
Kashima was away to Beijing Guoan in a Group F game later Wednesday. Victory for Kashima would send the Antlers into the quarterfinals provided Krung Thai Bank fail to beat Vietnam’s Nam Dinh.
Urawa Reds receive a bye into the quarterfinals as defending champions while the other 28 teams must battle it out for the other seven places.
Only the winners of each of the seven groups advance to the last eight of the tournament, which involves the league and cup champions of 14 countries.
The Asian champions earn a place in the lucrative FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.