HANOI – Kashima Antlers joined J. League rival Gamba Osaka in the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League after a routine 4-0 win away to Vietnam’s Nam Dinh on Wednesday in the final round of group-phase matches.
Goals from Yuzo Tashiro, Shinzo Koroki, Masashi Motoyama and Danilo did the damage at a virtually empty My Dinh Stadium to clinch Group F with 15 points from six games, three more than Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan, which was shocked 5-3 by Krung Thai Bank.
Kashima advanced to the knockout stage for the first time after being eliminated in its only previous ACL appearance in 2003.
Gamba, already assured a place in the last eight, wrapped up the first round with a 1-1 draw at home to South Korea’s Chunnam Dragons.
Gamba finished the Group G campaign unbeaten with 14 points. Australia’s Melbourne Victory took second place, seven points back after a 3-1 win over Thailand’s Chonburi.
Despite dominating from the kick-off, Kashima was given a fright in the 25th minute when Tran Duc Duong forced Hitoshi Sogahata into action with a venomous shot but Tashiro broke the deadlock moments later.
Ogasawara launched a high ball into the box and Tashiro had time and space to plant a firm left-footed shot into the bottom corner for his fifth goal of the tournament.
Koroki extended the visitors’ lead four minutes into the second period, bundling home after Nam Dinh goalkeeper Tran Thanh Trung had saved his header.
Motoyama added a third after Tran could only push Takeshi Aoki’s cross into his path and substitute Danilo sliced through the Vietnamese defense to complete the rout with a late fourth.
Urawa Reds receive a bye into the quarterfinals as defending champions.
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.