SINGAPORE (AFP) - Japanese and Saudi Arabian clubs reinforced their credentials as four teams from each country reached the AFC Champions League round of 16, but Chinese sides failed miserably.
The group stages of Asia's top club competition wrapped up Wednesday evening with the shock of the day being Shandong Luneng's embarrassing capitulation to minnows Sriwijaya.
The Indonesians had conceded 22 goals and failed to pick up a point in their five previous games and looked headed for another heavy defeat when they went 2-0 down to the Chinese Super League outfit at half-time.
But in an amazing turnaround they battled back to take the game 4-2.
With Beijing Guoan and Tianjin Teda already out of the running Shandong needed to beat Sriwijaya to keep Chinese hopes alive, but instead of heading home triumphant they instead return humiliated.
Shandong coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic was stunned afterwards.
"We are out of this competition and it is hard to believe that as we were 2-0 up in the first half," he said.
"But that's the reality and we must look now to build a stronger team for the future."
Their failure to qualify opened the door to FC Seoul, who upset defending champions Gamba Osaka in Japan, with a 90th-minute goal from Kim Han-Yoon handing the visitors a surprise 2-1 win.
It earned them a crack at J-League stalwarts Kashima Antlers for a place in the quarter-finals.
In all, four teams from Japan and four from Saudi Arabia made the grade, along with three from South Korea, two from Uzbekistan and one apiece from Iran, Qatar, and Australia.
Gamba will confront fellow J-League side Kawasaki Frontale in a potentially explosive last-16 clash.
Their coach, Akira Nishino, said he had hoped the Japanese sides would avoid each other until the quarter-finals.
"I was hoping to see all the J-League teams win their group and advance to meet each other in the quarter-finals," he said.
"But one of the two can advance to the following stage, and I hope that will be Gamba."
In another key round of 16 showdown, Saudi giants and former two-time Champions League winners Al Ittihad host countrymen Al Shabab, who recently beat them in the Saudi King?s Cup.
In the only west Asian tie not featuring a Saudi team, Iran's Piroozi are at home to Group D runners-up Bunyodkor, the Uzbek champions.
Elsewhere, Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia play Qatar's Umm-Salal while the fourth Saudi team to qualify, Al Ettifaq, are at home to Pakhtakor, from Uzbekistan.
Australian hopes, meanwhile, remain alive after Newcastle Jets clinched a 1-0 win over Ulsan Hyundai in Korea, thanks to a first-half glancing header from midfielder Jason Hoffman.
It earned them another trip to Korea to play Pohang Steelers and coach Gary van Egmond was delighted.
"There was nothing more that I could have asked from my team," he said.
"We knew it was going to be difficult but we came and achieved our goal. I am very proud of our players."
In the other east zone match, Japan's Nagoya Grampus, who won Group E, will host South Korean powerhouse Suwon Bluewings.
West zone matches will be played on May 27, in a one-match knockout format, while east zone games are played on June 24.
|´Deschamps should be flattered - Ryan Gosling is a Mormon´ – Cantona explains France boss criticism|
|Xhaka proud to complete ´dream´ Arsenal move|
|Conte concerned by De Rossi injury|
|Pepe hails Zidane influence after ´tough six months´ under Benitez|
|Hull City´s top-flight return comes at a cost for fans|
|Koeman: United don´t deserve FA Cup trophy after sacking Van Gaal|
|Ramos hails Zidane for turning Madrid around|
|Nobody expected this trophy – Arbeloa|
|MLS Review: Drogba scores late, Wright-Phillips nets treble|
|Benzema wants Madrid stay after Champions League win|
|Koke: I think Simeone will stay at Atletico|
|United States 4 Bolivia 0: Zardes scores brace as Pulisic opens account|
|Champions League final: A bomb scare, Clarence Seedorf and Ronaldo strips off again|
|United States 4-0 Bolivia: Zardes scores brace as Pulisic opens account|
|Saul: Atletico don´t deserve second heartbreak|
|Real Madrid players revel in Champions League success|
|Davies: Tottenham joked Pochettino was joining United|
|Gabi: I am convinced Atletico will win the Champions League|
|Mexico 1 Paraguay 0: Guardado extends unbeaten streak|
|Simeone to ´think about´ Atletico future|
|Zidane: I dreamed this would happen after getting Real Madrid job|
|Ronaldo ´had a vision´ he would score San Siro winner|
|James wants Real Madrid stay despite Champions League final snub|
|Real Madrid success an amazing journey, says Bale|
|Simeone rues Atletico ´failure´|
|Sterling tips Rashford for long England career|
|Navas hails Champions League triumph as ´dream come true´|
|Champions League trophy belongs to Real Madrid - Modric|
|Perez hails Zidane after dramatic Champions League win|
|Bale the main man for Madrid, and the rest of the Champions League final player ratings|
|Ronaldo: Real Madrid experience made the difference|
|Ronaldo gamble eventually pays off for Madrid|
|Griezmann´s penalty miss & Ronaldo´s nerves of steel - The key moments that decided the Champions Le|
|Real Madrid 1 Atletico Madrid 1 (aet, 5-3 pens): Ronaldo settles dramatic shoot-out|
|I have not scored enough for Man City, concedes Sterling|
|Carvajal sustains injury in Champions League final|
|Bruce lauds Diame ´magic´ as Hull seal Premier League return|
|Hull City 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0: Diame fires Tigers back to the big time|
|France midfielder Diarra hit with €10million fine|
|Bartra confirms he can leave Barcelona for €8million|
|France v Cameroon: Cabaye out to prove a point|
|Mourinho will bring trophies to Man Utd, says McNair|
|Switzerland 1 Belgium 2: Lukaku, De Bruyne complete comeback|
|Hummels doubtful for Germany´s Euro 2016 opener|
|´Very likely´ that I´ll stay at West Ham, says Payet|
|Dante expecting Wolfsburg improvement|
|Le Graet slams Cantona over ´pathetic´ Deschamps attack|
|Williams hoping to become a leader in Spain squad|
|Switzerland 1-2 Belgium: Lukaku and De Bruyne inspire Red Devils comeback|
|UEFA opts against extending Sakho´s provisional doping ban, but case not yet dropped|
|Subotic considering his options|
|Ter Stegen: Barcelona season a success|
|Umtiti replaces Mathieu in France´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Grigg, Washington make Northern Ireland´s final Euro 2016 squad|
|´There are many regrets´ - Galliani on Torres´ time at Milan|
|Milan metro reopens after false alarm over suspect package|
|Germany still uncertain on Schweinsteiger return|
|Low: I don´t regret telling Gotze to outshine Messi|
|Champions League over La Liga for Madrid, says Morientes|
|Seedorf tips Ronaldo to make the difference in Milan|
|Bayern will reject all offers for Lewandowski - Rummenigge|
|Judge Zidane on next season - Seedorf|
|Galliani denies Benzema talks but won´t rule out Kovacic deal|
|Chile can´t repeat Jamaica showing against Argentina, warns Medel|
|Mascherano, Higuain hopeful on Messi injury|
|FA warns Brentford´s Judge after doping breaches|
|Clyne impressed with Rashford´s ability and temperament|
|Tottenham to play Champions League fixtures at Wembley|
|Hodgson upbeat on Wilshere, Henderson fitness|
|Ronaldo prolific, Neymar inventive and Gabi tenacious: The best Champions League player stats|
|De Jong still hurting over Euros failure|
|Ronaldo: I do not like Simeone´s tactics|
|Sporting Kansas City 0 DC United 1: Kamara nets winner on debut|
|Costa Rica 2 Venezuela 1: Hosts rally to pre-Copa America win|
|Rashford displays no longer a surprise – Smalling|
|Bale and Co. ready for Atletico test in Champions League final|
|Messi avoids serious injury ahead of Copa America opener|
|Maldini: Italian football needs to start over|
|Chile 1 Jamaica 2: Copa champions suffer shock loss|
|Argentina 1 Honduras 0: Higuain scores stunner as Messi hobbles off|
|Uruguay 3 Trinidad and Tobago 1: Cavani double inspires hosts|
|Argentina 1-0 Honduras: Higuain scores stunner as Messi hobbles off|
|Chile 1-2 Jamaica: Copa champion suffers shock loss|
|Deportivo La Coruna sign Emre Colak|
|Uruguay 3-1 Trinidad and Tobago: Cavani double inspires home side|
|Forster optimistic over England´s Euro chances|
|Ramos ´just as hungry as before´ ahead of Atletico showdown|
|Small details will decide Champions League final - Marcelo|
|Henderson backs ´special´ Rashford to push for Euro berth|
|O´Neill pleased with Ireland display despite late equaliser|
|Postecoglou proud despite Socceroos loss|
|Hartley: Another concussion could end my career|
|Hodgson hails Rashford, but leaves door open for Sturridge|
|O´Neill hails ´perfect night´|
|Rashford would have no fear at Euro 2016 - Henderson|
|Ibrahimovic´s next club ´a surprise´ - agent Raiola|
|Republic of Ireland 1 Netherlands 1: Late goal pegs O´Neill´s men back|
|Northern Ireland 3 Belarus 0: Lafferty marks 50th cap with goal|
|Rashford seizes England chance to leave Sturridge in peril|
|England 2 Australia 1: Remarkable Rashford strikes on debut|
|Champions League final: Thankless tasks on eve of showpiece, pesky sprinklers and a few old pros|
|Lewandowski agent confirms Real Madrid talks|
|Germany v Slovakia: Low´s young stars desperate to earn Euro call|
|Nigeria 1 Mali 0: Iheanacho ends wretched run|
|Republic of Ireland 1-1 Netherlands: Boys in Green pegged back after Long goal|
|No fears for Real as Ronaldo looks razor sharp|
|Hazard hints at Chelsea stay|
|Reinartz retires at 27 due to injuries|
|Bellerin not interested in rumours of Barcelona move|
|Zidane happy to fulfil Ancelotti´s prophecy|
|Ronaldo is 100 per cent fit for Champions League final - Zidane|
|Rummenigge: Bayern ready to welcome Hoeness back|
|Bordeaux name Gourvennec as new coach|
|Portugal v Norway: Quaresma challenges hosts to prove Euro 2016 ambition|
|Espanyol announce Galca exit|
|Spain v Bosnia-Herzegovina Preview: Uncapped duo aim to impress|
|Spain v Bosnia-Herzegovina: Uncapped duo aim to impress|
|Italy v Scotland Preview: Chiellini spots chance to prepare for Ireland challenge|
|Middlesbrough confirm Fischer deal|
|Pearson targeting promotion after Derby appointment|
|England 2-1 Australia: Rashford and Rooney see off Socceroos|
|FIFA hits Croatia with stadium ban as part of widespread homophobia sanctions|
|Northern Ireland 3-0 Belarus: O'Neill's men cruise to victory|
|Italy v Scotland: Chiellini spots chance to prepare for Ireland challenge|
|Sane brushes off talk of Schalke exit|
|Yorke: Giggs should be Mourinho successor|
|Defence can lead Italy to Euro success - Chiellini|
|Scolari swoons over ´spectacular´ Ronaldo|
|Neuer to miss Germany friendly|
|Gabi looking forward, not back|
|Gerhardt agrees Wolfsburg switch|
|Champions League final is the game of my life - Torres|
|Simeone: Casemiro the key for Real|
|Mourinho urges United to ´forget the past three years´|
|Malaga appoint Ramos|
|Berlusconi ready to relinquish power at AC Milan|
|Busquets agrees new five-year Barcelona contract|
|Euro 2016 not under threat from strike action - Braillard|
|Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid: San Siro the stage for Champions League final re-run|
|Vela staying with Sociedad - agent|
|A poke in the eye & ´the f****** master´: Five of the best Mourinho v Guardiola battles|
|Red Devils enter Faustian pact as Manchester United hire Mourinho|
|Star striker top of Mourinho´s United shopping list|
|An attacking mastermind even more fearsome than Ferguson - Jose Mourinho in numbers|
|Manchester United appoint Mourinho as manager|
|Italy not among Euro 2016 favourites - Ancelotti|
|Win or lose in Milan, it is time for Perez to back Zidane|
|Ronaldo wants Morata back at Madrid|
|England v Australia preview: All eyes on Rashford debut|
|Weigl, Kimmich grateful to Tuchel and Guardiola|
|Benitez: I´m ready for Championship challenge|
|Colombia v Haiti: Bacca ready for responsibility|
|Karembeu hails Zidane ahead of Champions League final|
|Panama v Brazil: Lucas Lima ready to prove himself|
|Kaka replaces Douglas Costa in Brazil´s Copa America squad|
|Mascherano opens up on Juventus rumours|
|Allen unclear over Liverpool future|
|Hodgson praises scrapped cup replays|
|Deschamps to take legal action against Cantona|