SHANGHAI: Shanghai SIPG’s prolific marksman Elkeson scored with an outrageous 45-yard effort as China’s Brazilian imports justified their expensive price tags in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday.
Hulk, a 55 million euro signing from Zenit St Petersburg, was another Brazilian on the scoresheet as Andre Villas-Boas’s SIPG kept their 100 percent record in Group F with a 3-2 win against Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds.
SIPG’s rivals, Jiangsu Suning also dispatched Japanese opposition as former Chelsea midfielder Ramires was enjoying a carnival of his own at Gamba Osaka, scoring the only goal in a man-of-the-match performance.
Elkeson’s stunning strike past the stranded goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa put Andre Villas-Boas’s SIPG 2-0 ahead on the stroke of half-time after Shi Ke’s headed opener.
With Brazil international and record 60 million euro signing Oscar pulling the strings in midfield it soon became 3-0 on 52 minutes when Hulk used all his strength to brush off three challenges before slotting through the hapless Nishikawa’s legs.
Urawa got one back against the run of play when Rafael Silva was hauled down in the box and got up to convert the penalty himself. And Wataru Endo’s scrambled goal six minutes from time gave SIPG a few nervy moments before the full-time whistle.
Meanwhile in Osaka, Ramires was running the show as Jiangsu, bankrolled by the giant Suning group that also controls Inter Milan, stayed on top of Group H with a 1-0 win as the big-spending club go in search of their first Asian title.
The Brazilian midfielder, who cost Jiangsu 28 million euros from Chelsea in January 2016, struck a gorgeous finish with his left foot from 20 yards six minutes before half-time.
Gamba threw everything forward in the second half as they went in search of an equaliser, but it was Jiangsu who went closest to another goal with some lightning counter-attacking led by Ramires and fellow Brazilian Alex Teixeira, who cost 50 million euros from Shakhtar Donetsk.
The result put Jiangsu five points clear at the top of Group H with a perfect three wins from three games.
Sydney stun Seoul
Former Asian champions Western Sydney Wanderers had lost both of their opening Group F games but they stunned FC Seoul 3-2 in the Korean capital in the upset of the night.
Goals from inside the box by Lachlan Scott, Terry Antonis from the penalty spot and a long-range Jaushua Sotirio effort put the 2014 AFC Champions into a shock 3-0 lead with just over an hour played.
Yun Il-Lok gave the fans at the Seoul World Cup Stadium hope with a tight-angled finish on 66 minutes and when he got his second six minutes later an unlikely comeback was on. But Wanderers managed to hold firm in the face of a late siege to take the three points.
Another Australian side, Adelaide United, got their first point of the campaign after coming from behind twice in a pulsating 3-3 draw at home to Korea’s Jeju United in the other Group H match.
After a goalless first half the South Australian side took the lead when Papa Diawara stroked home a 51st-minute penalty.
Jeju hit back 10 minutes later through their giant striker Frederic Mendy and led when Brazilian Marcelo Toscano thumped home an unstoppable right-foot piledriver on 71 minutes.
Adelaide pulled it back to 2-2 through Sergio Cirio’s header to set up a frantic finale.
Kwon Soon-Hyung fired Jeju 3-2 ahead with six minutes remaining only for never-say-die Adelaide to equalise within 60 seconds of the restart through Mark Ochieng.