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.
|Coleman sees shades of Charles in Bale winner|
|Conte only concerned about Italy winning|
|Mauritania v South Africa: SAFA to investigate Masilela no-show|
|AFC World Cup Qualifying Review: Qatar hit 15 in Bhutan rout|
|Belgium 3 Bosnia-Herzegovina 1: De Bruyne shines in straightforward victory|
|Cyprus 0 Wales 1: Bale winner takes Wales one step closer|
|Netherlands 0 Iceland 1: Sigurdsson winner caps difficult first game for Blind|
|Italy 1 Malta 0: Pelle spares wasteful Azzurri|
|Balotelli stars in Milan friendly win|
|Bhutan thrashed 15-0 by Qatar in qualifier|
|Rwanda v Ghana: Gyan doubt gives hosts hope|
|Tanzania v Nigeria: Enyeama out of AFCON qualifier|
|Valdes and Berahino included in Premier League squads|
|Costa Rica v Brazil: Dunga´s men return after Copa disappointment|
|Spain v Slovakia: Azpilicueta eyeing important revenge|
|Adebayor left out of Tottenham squad list for league and Europe|
|San Marino v England: Place in history books beckons for Rooney|
|Germany can cope with Reus absence - Low|
|Bayern offer aid to refugees in ´training camp´|
|BREAKING NEWS: Welbeck ruled out for months after knee surgery|
|South Korea 8 Laos 0: Son leads the way in rout|
|Australia 5 Bangladesh 0: Socceroos surge to emphatic win|
|Japan 3 Cambodia 0: Hosts pick up first qualifying win|
|Rudiger aiming to nail down Euros spot after Roma move|
|Melo happy to join Inter at last|
|Hernandez thanks Ferguson after United departure|
|Chung: AFC has compromised FIFA election|
|Wales the new best of British|
|Reus out of Germany qualifiers|
|Chile v Paraguay: Vidal missing for Copa champions|
|Ghedin: Anything is possible for Malta|
|Pogba will be worth €100m - Marotta|
|England can win Euro 2016 - Hodgson tells players|
|Conte unsure over Balotelli future|
|Portugal - France Preview: Deschamps aiming to correct mistakes|
|Martial never the same again - Mangala|
|Copa del Rey Review: Racing fall at the first|
|Shelvey dismisses talk of England snub|
|Galatasaray unable to play Grosskreutz|
|Faroe Islands v Northern Ireland: O´Neill preaches patience ahead of Euro double-header|
|Levy slams ´wholly inappropriate´ West Brom after Berahino chase|
|Panama v Uruguay: Visitors without Suarez and Cavani|
|Captaincy won´t change me - Robben|
|Liverpool sign Brazilian youngster Allan|
|PFA expects swift Berahino resolution|
|Argentina v Bolivia: Mascherano backs ´very special´ Messi|
|´I do not know if I´m worth €80million´ - Martial shocked at price-tag|
|Afellay suspension reduced|
|Noble red card rescinded|
|Portugal v France: Deschamps aiming to correct mistakes|
|Bahebeck given the all clear|
|Germany v Poland: Muller out to settle the score|
|Gibraltar v Republic of Ireland: Keane counting on McCarthy and Walters|
|Georgia v Scotland: Tbilisi trip has must-win feel for Robertson|
|Juve still the team to beat - Hernanes|
|De Gea will remain professional, says team-mate Mata|
|Berahino given extra time off following strike tweet|
|´No excuses´ as Costa seeks to kick-start season|
|I´m not like Messi or Ronaldo – Hazard|
|United States v Peru: Klinsmann out to ´prove a point´|
|Martinez unsure when Cleverley will return|
|France set for Russia friendly ahead of Euros|
|Former Manchester United forward Berbatov joins PAOK|
|De Gea must play to earn Euro 2016 spot – Del Bosque|
|Cahill thrilled to lead Socceroos|
|Wijnaldum urges patience with new-look Newcastle|
|Reid praises Stones´ professionalism|
|Mexico v Trinidad and Tobago: Islanders hoping to build on Gold Cup display|
|Choosing Brazil over Spain was easiest decision, says Rafinha|
|Galliani hails ´changed´ Balotelli|
|OFC World Cup Qualifying Review: American Samoa notch second competitive win|
|Canada v Belize: Hosts look to stay calm|
|Carragher surprised by ´big´ Martial price|
|No pressure on Rodgers - Rush|
|No Benzema, no Cavani - Arsenal ´can´t compete´ says Sol Campbell|
|FFA muzzle Postecoglou after pay dispute criticism|
|Celtic complete Simunovic signing|
|Joaquin: I´m as happy as a little boy|
|Navas given time off by Costa Rica|
|Martial unfazed by prospect of United pressure|
|Ramos urges De Gea to overcome transfer woe|