Beijing Guoan FC once again proved their championship credential with a narrow 1-0 win over FC Tokyo in Doha on Sunday and became the first East Asian club in the quarterfinals of the AFC Champions League 2020.
The Chinese Super League side had won five of their six group stage matches to book a place in the Round of 16, but faced a tough challenge from Group F runners-up FC Tokyo in the first knockout tie in the East Zone of the tournament.
Tsuyoshi Watanabe and Leandro threatened Bruno Genesio's side early, but with his teammates not at the top of their game, Brazilian midfielder Renato Augusto stepped up to hand Beijing their first-ever ACL quarterfinals berth.
Renato and Beijing upped their game in the second half after being under pressure for the first 45 minutes. Brazilian's pullback for Alan Carvalho went begging as the naturalised forward failed to hit the target five minutes after the restart.
A few minutes later, Beijing centre-back Kim Min-jae went close with a header from a corner before they found the all-important winner in the 59th minute, thanks to some excellent work from Renato. Ryoya Ogawa was left for dead by the Brazilian before his cut back was finished by Alan to make it 1-0.
Renato was denied the chance to cap off his brilliant display with a goal when his vicious shot was kept out by Tokyo custodian Go Hatano later in the game. Alan did suffer a vicious knock in the match and Beijing will hope to have him fit before Thursday's quarterfinal.
Crocombe heroics can't save Melbourne from elimination
Max Crocombe's stellar performance was not enough as the A-League's sole representative in the knockout phase were bounced following a 3-0 loss against Ulsan Hyundai in the later match.
Ulsan dominated the possession and chances in the Round of 16 clash, but Victory's New Zealand international shot-stopper managed to keep his side in the game until a Bjorn Johnsen brace and a Won Du-jae header allowed them the passage to the next stage.
The K League 1 outfit could have scored early when Yoon Bit-garam ballooned over from close range before Crocombe denied Kim In-sung in a one-on-one in the 21st minute.
The Melbourne goalkeeper once again kept the scores level when he palmed away Yoon's long-range effort late in the first half. He continued to be busy after the restart saving a close-range effort from Junior Negrao in the 53rd minute.
The Australians could have taken the lead five minutes later when Brandon Lauton's shot during a counter attack was saved at the other end by Jo Su-huk. Melbourne were left to rue the missed chance as Ulsan broke the deadlock through Johnsen in the 65th minute.
An unmarked Won headed in from a Yoon cross in the 77th minute before Johnsen added his second of the night with a tap in four minutes from time to send Ulsan into their first quarterfinal appearance in the competition since winning the title in 2012.
Vissel Kobe will face Shanghai SIPG while Yokohama F. Marinos take on Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the two remaining Round of 16 clashes on Monday. Meanwhile, the quarterfinals draw for the East Zone of AFC Champions League 2020 is slated to be held on Tuesday.