HONG KONG (Reuters) - Shanghai SIPG striker Elkeson shook off illness to score the only goal of the game as last season’s Chinese Super League runners-up handed Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale a 1-0 defeat in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday.
The former Guangzhou Evergrande forward scored midway through the first half to give SIPG the perfect start to the campaign as they seek to better last year’s run to the semi-finals under new coach Vitor Pereira.
“It has been a tough week for us,” said Pereira, who replaced Andre Villas-Boas at the conclusion of last season.
“Both Oscar and Odil Ahmedov were injured, Hulk has been sick this week too. Fortunately, they all had good performances in the game.
“Elkeson has the best attitude at all times. He has had a fever for the past three days but he chose to give his all to the team.”
SIPG top Group F with the win, two points ahead of Melbourne Victory and Ulsan Hyundai from South Korea, who played out a 3-3 draw in Australia.
Ulsan led on three occasions, but Kevin Muscat’s side pulled level each time to ensure the teams finished with a share of the points.
Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian, meanwhile, scored three times in seven first-half minutes to brush aside a Kitchee team featuring an ineffective 38-year-old Diego Forlan.
Anthony Modeste put his side ahead 32 minutes into the game before a Paulinho own goal and a diving header from Sun Ke put the result beyond doubt before halftime.
“We’re happy that we have won the game,” said Modeste. “We did a good job. This is the first game in the Asian Champion League for Tianjin Quanjian and it is very important to win the first game.”
Tianjin join former champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at the top of Group E after 38-year-old Lee Dong-gook scored twice to inspire the South Korean champions to a 3-2 comeback win over Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol.
In the west of the continent, Wesley Sneijder scored on his Asian Champions League debut for Qatar’s Al Gharafa, but it was not enough to stop his side losing 3-2 to Al Jazira from the United Arab Emirates in Group A.
Henk Ten Cate’s team are joined at the summit by Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli, who defeated Tractorsazi of Iran.
In Group B, Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv Tashkent handed Al Wahda of the UAE a 5-0 thrashing while Karim Boudiaf scored a double to give Al Duhail of Qatar a 3-1 win over Zob Ahan from Iran.
Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge