AFC Champions League heads in to quarter finals with Qatar’s Al Duhail still unbeaten

May 16 –  Eight teams remain in the hunt for Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League glory this season, after the competition’s Round of 16 ties were completed on Wednesday.

In the East of the continent, Kim Gun-hee scored twice as South Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings recovered from a narrow defeat in the first leg to beat fellow K League side Ulsan Hyundai 3-0 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate, while Japan’s Kashima Antlers also progressed to the quarter-finals following an impressive aggregate defeat of China’s star-studded Shanghai SIPG.

Elsewhere, former Brazil international Alexandre Pato was on target in a 2-2 draw as Chinese debutants Tianjin Quanjian downed two-time winners and domestic rivals Guangzhou Evergrande on away goals, and Korean outfit Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors rallied from a 3-2 first leg loss to beat Thailand’s Buriram United 4-3 on aggregate.

On Tuesday, West Asia confirmed its quarter-final contenders after Iran’s Esteghlal defeated compatriots Zobahan thanks to a superb Mame Thiam hat-trick, and the impressive Al Duhail from Qatar – who have now won all eight of their matches this campaign – eased past the UAE’s Al Ain.

The duo joined back-to-back Iran Pro League champions Persepolis and Qatar’s Al Sadd who booked their tickets through to the next phase a day earlier after overcoming Al Jazira and Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli respectively.

The AFC Champions League was revamped in 2009 with 32 teams competing in eight groups. A Round of 16 was introduced and the final was changed from a two-legged affair to a one-game title decider.

The format was tweaked once again in 2013 with the final reverting to a two-leg format along with the Round of 16, which had been played as single elimination games since their introduction in 2009.

The official draw for the 2018 quarter-finals is scheduled to take place next Wednesday at the AFC’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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