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.
|Football League Wrap: Tranmere defeated, Chesterfield move top of League Two|
|Serie A Preview: Inter v Milan|
|Bundesliga: Frankfurt 1 Augsburg 1|
|Ligue 1: Monaco 1 Valenciennes 2|
|La Liga: Elche 0 Malaga 1|
|Eredivisie: RKC Waalwijk 1 Twente 1|
|La Liga Preview: Getafe v Barcelona|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Paris Saint-Germain v Lille|
|UAE Pro League Wrap: Al Ahli extend lead, Al Shaab earn rare win|
|Lambert seeks more Villa away success|
|Sunderland will have ´no excuses´ for Norwich failure, says Poyet|
|Hughton hails Poyet impact|
|Pardew anticipating difficult Palace clash|
|UEFA provisionally ban three clubs from European competition|
|La Liga Preview: Valencia v Real Madrid|
|Valdes to keep new club quiet|
|Allardyce urges West Ham to expose United frailties|
|Bruce bemoans Brady injury|
|Laudrup rules out Tottenham switch|
|Premier League Preview: Swansea City v Everton|
|Benitez is ´a lucky charm´, says De Laurentiis|
|Stoke wait on Shawcross fitness|
|Koscielny to miss out on Chelsea clash|
|Liverpool owner hails Suarez deal as sign of club´s progress|
|Moyes reveals Nani setback|
|Schweinsteiger to return in January|
|Thohir not worried ahead of derby|
|Mourinho eyes defensive improvements|
|Pellegrini optimistic on Zabaleta return|
|Gourcuff reveals contract refusal|
|Suarez pens new long-term Liverpool deal|
|Klopp predicts tough Hertha battle|
|Dempsey has medical ahead of Fulham return|
|Bruce sympathetic to Mackay situation|
|A-League: Brisbane Roar 0 Newcastle Jets 2|
|Celtic´s Lustig set to miss four months|
|Messi blasts Barca official|
|Redknapp slams Villas-Boas´ signings|
|Atalanta out to continue home record|
|Phillips poised for January Palace exit|
|Dembele: Spurs ´positive´ about Sherwood appointment|
|Benitez predicts busy January at Napoli|
|Kerslake expects Mackay to be in charge for Liverpool game|
|Lowe given Glory role|
|Baines set for Everton return|
|Pedro keen on emulating Iniesta|
|Pochettino not interested in January purchases|
|Poyet calls for mid-season break|
|Iajour up for Bayern test|
|Martinez seeking ´short-term solutions´ in transfer window|
|Kompany urges City to remain focused|
|Rodgers glad he avoided Tottenham|
|Del Piero in line to take on Juventus in Australia|
|Copa del Rey Wrap: Valencia scrape through, Bilbao thrash Celta|
|Primeira Liga: Maritimo 2 Braga 2|
|Galliani to stay at Milan|
|Klopp plays down Club World Cup|
|Schalke coach Keller not fearing the sack|
|Wilshere loses appeal against two-match ban|
|Zaha on Pardew´s radar|
|Milan will be my final club, says Abbiati|
|Anigo to remain at Marseille helm for time being|
|Premier League Preview: West Brom v Hull City|
|No Bankia involvement in Bale deal, says Perez|
|Galliani wants stronger Milan youth system|
|Rafinha extends Bayern contract|
|Premier League Preview: Stoke City v Aston Villa|
|Poyet: No excuse not to perform|
|Vanishing spray to be used at World Cup|
|Gabbidon praises Palace strike pair|
|Premier League Preview: Manchester United v West Ham|
|Hughton calls for Norwich City to show character|
|Premier League Preview: Fulham v Manchester City|
|Samaras attracting Lazio interest|
|Premier League Preview: Liverpool v Cardiff City|
|Rodgers backs Mackay at Cardiff|
|Foster back fit and raring for West Brom recall|
|De Boer agent denies Tottenham contact|
|Premier League Preview: Crystal Palace v Newcastle United|
|Hungary appoint Pinter as new coach|
|Iniesta signs new Barca contract|
|Rodgers coy over Suarez talks|
|Jagielka hopes for fresh faces at Everton to help top-four push|
|A-League: Central Coast 1 Wellington 0|
|Spain end top of FIFA rankings for sixth year running|
|Allardyce disappointed to draw Manchester City|
|Pascoe hails ´unbelievable´ Suarez|
|Vorm knee surgery brought forward|
|Blanc hails Cavani brace|
|Michu wants Aspas to join Swansea City|
|Hoeness plays down Bayern treble suggestions|
|Dzeko confident he can fill Aguero void|
|Moyes: No loan offers for Zaha|
|Kiessling calls for Leverkusen response|
|Matuidi: Cavani on par with Ibrahimovic|
|Yeboah set to join Borussia Monchengladbach|
|Rooney a ´chance´ to face West Ham|
|FIFA Club World Cup Preview: Bayern Munich v Raja Casablanca|
|Benzarti praises ´extremely talented´ Raja Casablanca|
|Ranieri unsure over Falcao return|
|Coupe de La Ligue Wrap: Cavani leads PSG to dramatic win|
|Copa del Rey Wrap: Real Madrid through as Sevilla crash out|