KASHIMA, IBARAKI PREF. – Kashima Antlers took a step toward the Asian Champions League quarterfinals Wednesday night by beating Shanghai SIPG 3-1 in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie.
Seeking to reach the last eight of the tournament for the first time in a decade, the hosts took the lead in the 43rd minute when Yuma Suzuki headed past Shanghai keeper Yan Junling from the edge of the six-yard box off a corner kick.
The J. League club doubled the lead four minutes into the second half, striking again from a corner, as Daigo Nishi found the back of the net with his right foot from the center of the box.
An own goal by Shanghai defender Yu Hai put the result beyond doubt with 15 minutes of regulation remaining. Brazilian forward Elkeson struck for the Chinese Super League side two minutes later, giving them a measure of pride and a potentially important away goal.
The only Japanese club to advance past the group stage this year, Antlers hope to improve on their result in the previous tournament, when they fell to Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande in the first knockout stage.
Shanghai hosts Antlers for the second leg of the tie next Wednesday. The team with the highest aggregate score from the two legs will advance to the quarterfinals, with away goals serving as a tiebreaker.
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