DUBAI (AFP) - Title-holders Pohang Steelers slumped to a 2-1 quarter-final first leg defeat against Iranian side Zobahan on Wednesday to leave the defence of their AFC Champions League crown in the balance.
Mahdi Rajabzadeh's 75th-minute penalty, awarded after Jung Hong-youn had fouled Igor Castro in the area, proved the difference between the two sides.
Castro had given the Iranian league leaders the lead after 18 minutes when a Rajabzadeh corner was headed into his path by Mohammad Ghazi. The Brazilian turned neatly and shot past goalkeeper Shin Hwa-yung.
His compatriot Mota equalised in the 55th minute when a right-wing cross from Kim Jae-sung was not cleared properly by Farshid Talebi.
His header fell to Mota, who shot into the bottom corner.
Earlier, Seongnam Ilhwa continued their impressive recent form to crush fellow South Koreans Suwon Bluewings 4-1 in the first leg of their quarter-final.
But while Seongnam made the most of home advantage, another K-League team, Jeonbuk Motors, failed to fire and now have a huge mountain to climb after losing 2-0 to Saudi giants Al Shabab.
Seongnam's Macedonian target man Dzenan Radoncic opened the scoring in the eighth minute before Yeom Ki-Hun equalised for the visitors, who saw their nine-match unbeaten streak ended over the weekend in the domestic league.
Seven-time Korean champions Seongnam have a formidable front line and former Colombia international Mauricio Molina made it 2-1 just past the half-hour mark.
With former player Shin Tae-Yong now coaching the team and directing operations from the touchline, they increased their advantage in the second half with Radoncic finding the net again in the 67th minute.
Song Ho-Young grabbed a fourth six minutes from time to leave Suwon with a mountain to climb in the return leg next week.
Jeonbuk Motors, the 2006 champions, also have their work cut out after Al Shabab got the better of them with second-half strikes from Fahad Hamad and recently-arrived Uruguay forward Juan Manuel Olivera.
It was an unexpected result for Al Shabab, who have made a poor start in the Saudi League and lie a lowly ninth after managing only one win from their opening four games.
Al Hilal made it a night to remember for Saudi football when they defeated Al Gharafa from neighbouring Qatar 3-0 with goals from Mohammed Al-Shalhoub, Ahmed Al-Fraidi and substitute Waleed Algizani.
Reports this week suggested that Sven Goran Eriksson could become their new boss when Eric Gerets leaves to coach Morocco's national side.
Gerets is set to depart the Saudi powerhouse once their Champions League campaign ends.
The second legs are played on September 22, with the final at Tokyo's National Stadium on November 13.
|Matthews completes Sunderland move|
|Podolski set for Galatasaray medical|
|Gundogan inspires Dortmund victory|
|Inter confirm Montoya capture|
|Murillo joins Inter, as Kuzmanovic and Obi depart|
|Falcao signing not a risk, says former Chelsea star|
|Deeney agrees new Watford deal|
|Confidence and service the key to Falcao success at Chelsea|
|No bids for ´Chelsea target´ Baba, claim Augsburg|
|Derby swoop for Ince|
|Fiorentina consider legal action over Salah ´no-show´|
|Chelsea the team to beat in the Premier League, says Neville|
|Storari exits Juve for Cagliari|
|UEFA removes FFP restrictions on Man City and PSG|
|West Brom hope for new owners within the month|
|Chelsea agree loan deal for Falcao|
|Kuyt eyes trophies on Feyenoord return|
|Chile v Argentina: History beckons ahead of Copa America final|
|Wallace extends Monaco loan|
|Mihajlovic wants to instill fear factor at Milan|
|Mignolet improving at Liverpool - Grobbelaar|
|Mumbai City name Anelka player-manager|
|Olivia the parrot predicts Japan to win Women´s World Cup|
|Lusitans coach blasts Bilic´s ´lack of respect´|
|Sakho eyes more Europa League wins|
|Gareca wants Peru to keep building|
|Chile ´no chance´ if Argentina produce their best - Diaz|
|Ocampos joins Marseille permanently|
|Europa League Review: Cloud-nine Brondby ignite opening round|
|West Ham 3 Lusitans 0: Sakho nets twice at start of Europa League journey|
|Holebas makes Watford move|
|Milan secure Adriano signing|
|Peru v Paraguay: Diaz counts cost of semi-final loss|
|Bastia hit out at reports of extra debt|
|Hernandez has successful surgery|
|Odemwingie signs one-year Stoke extension|
|Uth signs for Hoffenheim|
|Henen seals Everton return|
|Cattermole pens long-term Sunderland deal|
|United States v Guatemala: Klinsmann backs Dempsey ahead of Gold Cup warm-up|
|West Ham working on Jenkinson return - Gold|
|Milan agree deal for Bacca|
|Real buy back Vazquez from Espanyol|
|Richards leaves Swansea for Fulham|
|McShane signs for Reading|
|Giggs tells youngsters to seize US chance|
|Hammond pens Leicester extension|
|Only Schweinsteiger can decide Bayern future - Guardiola|
|Cech plans to play until he´s 40|
|Montoya arrives in Milan ahead of Inter move|
|Hernandez out of Gold Cup|
|US asks Switzerland to extradite seven FIFA officials|
|MLS Preview: Sounders seek momentum switch|
|Mexico 0 Honduras 0: Hernandez injury sours friendly|
|Hernandez taken to hospital|
|Garay in doubt for Copa America final|
|Wambach: USA peaking for World Cup final|
|Bassett ´an absolute hero´ despite own goal - Sampson|
|Japan 2 England 1: Late own goal breaks English hearts|
|Salvo quits as Valencia president|
|Costa not Ribery cover - Bayern director Sammer|