HONG KONG, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Former champions Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates have secured their place in the group stages of the Asian Champions League with a 2-0 win over Bahrain’s Malkiya.
Al Ain had goals from Marcus Berg and Caio Junior to thank for their progress on Tuesday and they now take their place in Group D alongside Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, Esteghlal of Iran and Al Rayyan from Qatar.
Wesley Sneijder scored for Al Gharafa as the Qatari club saw off Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor, while Nasaf Qarshi, also from Uzbekistan, defeated Jordan’s Al Faisaly.
A pair of late goals from Morteza Tabrizi ensured Iran’s Zob Ahan saw off Aizawal from India.
Tianjin won their first game under new coach Paulo Sousa, with Anthony Modeste scoring twice as the Chinese Super League side saw off Ceres-Negros from the Philippines.
“It is great inspiration for Chinese football because there will be a new Chinese team playing in the Asian Champions League,” said Sousa, who took over from Fabio Cannavaro at the end of last season.
“We have the faith to continue our journey successfully, to overcome every opponent and go further.”
Shanghai SIPG were made to work hard for their 1-0 win over Chiangrai United from Thailand.
Suwon cruised past Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa with a 5-1 win and Kashiwa Reysol defeated Muangthong United from Thailand to advance to the group phase.
Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Peter Rutherford;