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Soccer: Kobe advance to ACL knockout phase with win over Guangzhou

Andres Iniesta of Vissel Kobe, right, and Mei Fang of Guangzhou Evergrande compete for the ball during an Asian Champions League Group G match in Doha, Qatar, on Nov. 25, 2020. (Getty/Kyodo)

DOHA (Kyodo) -- Vissel Kobe booked their place in the Asian Champions League knockout stage Wednesday with a 3-1 win against Group G opponents Guangzhou Evergrande.

    Kyogo Furuhashi opened the scoring in the 44th minute at Doha's Khalifa International Stadium after Andres Iniesta brilliantly threaded a short pass to the forward through a crowd of defenders.

    But Furuhashi's second goal in the 55th minute came at the wrong end as he headed into his own net while trying to defend a set piece.

    Brazilian striker Douglas finished a crisp counterattacking movement to put Atsuhiro Miura's side back in front in the 74th minute.

    Former Barcelona great Iniesta sealed the victory over two-time ACL champions Guangzhou with a composed finish 10 minutes later, after pouncing on the ball during a scramble inside the box.

    The win keeps Kobe on top of the three-team Group G with six points, five points clear of both Guangzhou, managed by 2006 Italian World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, and South Korean side Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

    In Group H, Jun Amano scored in the 90th minute to give Yokohama F Marinos a 1-0 win against Shanghai SIPG in their top-of-the-table clash. The victory saw the J-League side move three points clear atop the group with nine points.

    Marinos goalkeeper Powell Obinna Obi saved an 81st-minute penalty from former Brazil international Oscar to keep his side level.

    The Asian Champions League East zone returned this month in Qatar inside a "bubble" aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Fifteen teams will spend roughly two weeks racing through the remainder of the group stage, which was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic in early March.

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