PAK KRET, THAILAND – Kawasaki Frontale scored a resounding 3-1 victory over Muangthong United in the first leg of the Asian Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday.
After Teerasil Dangda handed the hosts the lead in the third minute of first-half injury time, Kawasaki captain and reigning J. League MVP Kengo Nakamura, Yu Kobayashi and Hiroyuki Abe netted three unanswered goals in the second half.
Nakamura equalized six minutes past the hour to ignite the fightback and three minutes later, Kobayashi’s volley from an Akihiro Ienaga cross pushed the visitors in front.
Kobayashi later assisted Abe, who sealed the win for Frontale in the 89th minute as Toru Oniki’s men put themselves in an excellent position to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Frontale — the only team yet to concede a single second-half goal in the competition — are in the ACL knockout phase for their fourth time, Muangthong its first.
In China, Kashima Antlers remained winless in the knockout round of the continental championship after six tries as the J. League champions went down 1-0 at the hands of Guangzhou Evergrande.
Masatada Ishii’s men tried to weather the storm from Guangzhou, tournament winners in 2013 and 2015, to take a draw back to Kashima for next week.
But Brazilian international Paulinho netted the lone goal in the 75th minute for the hosts, tapping in from close range after Yu Hanchao redirected a rightwing corner.
“We wanted to take at least a draw from here, but we couldn’t do it,” Ishii said. “But it’s only the first leg. We can build on this for our game at home.”
The second leg for both ties is May 30.
Urawa Reds, the other Japanese club in the last 16, play Jeju United in South Korea on Wednesday.