Tianjin, Shanghai claim AFC CL wins
2/13/2018 5:07:42 PM

Big-name strikers such as Hulk and Alexandre Pato may have drawn a blank on the opening night of the 2018 AFC Champions League but their Chinese Super League teams kicked off with vital victories on Tuesday.

Tianjin Quanjian, making a first appearance in the tournament in which 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four, defeated Kitchee of Hong Kong 3-0.

Former French under-21 international Anthony Modeste, signed for over $40 million last summer, opened the scoring in the first half as Tianjin, who finished third in the 2017 Chinese Super League, took control.

An own goal and a Sun Ke strike gave Tianjin the win despite the best efforts of Kitchee forward striker Diego Forlan, formerly of Manchester United and Inter Milan.

SIPG, semifinalists in 2017 after spending more than $100 million on Brazilian stars Hulk and Oscar, won 1-0 at Kawasaki Frontale.

The team’s less-heralded Brazilian import Elkeson grabbed the only goal of the game against the Japanese champions midway through the first half.

2016 winners Jeonbuk Motors returned to the competition in style, coming from 2-0 down in South Korea to defeat Japanese visitors Kashiwa Reysol 3-2 thanks to a second-half brace from 39 year-old Lee Dong-guk.

Jeonbuk, banned from defending its title in 2017 after a club scout was indicted for bribing referees in domestic competitions in 2013 and 2014, conceded two first-half goals before Lee, who appeared in the English Premier League for Middlesbrough in 2007, inspired a comeback.

Earlier on Tuesday, South Korea’s Ulsan Horang-I took the lead three times at Melbourne Victory but had to settle for a 3-3 draw.

The tournament is divided into two geographic zones, east and west, until November’s final.