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Kotoko's rise continues as Hearts' unbeaten run ends

By ESPN Staff

Mariners progress despite defeat

Central Coast Mariners sealed the second qualifying spot in AFC Champions League Group H, despite losing 3-0 at home to pool winners Kashiwa Reysol on Tuesday.

Kashiwa had already sealed top spot but produced a strong second-half display to see off their Australian opponents.

Masato Kudo opened the scoring just before the hour for the J.League team, with Brazilians Cleo and Leandro Domingues adding further strikes.

The Mariners still earned second spot by a point, as Guizhou Renhe, needing a win to progress, were held 2-2 at home by Suwon Bluewings.

The Chinese side fell behind to a Lee Jong-min goal in the 35th minute, but Sun Jihai levelled on the stroke of half-time.

Kwon Chang-hoon put Suwon back in front before Zhang Chenglin levelled four minutes from time, but the hosts could not find the winner they needed.

In Group G, Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan sealed top spot with a 1-1 draw at Pohang Steelers, who bow out.

Needing a point to progress, Bunyodkor went ahead through Oleksandr Pyshur's 79th-minute goal, with Park Sung-ho scoring a late equaliser.

That was not enough for Pohang, though, as Beijing Guoan sealed second place thanks to a goalless draw with Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

In Group C pool winners Al-Ahly ended their group campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to bottom side Al-Nasr.

Waleed Bakhshwain put the hosts ahead with a seventh-minute penalty, but Leo Lima levelled from the spot in the 21st minute and Rashid Malluah put Al-Nasr ahead nine minutes after the break.

But substitute Taisser Al-Jassam made it 2-2 13 minutes from time to ensure Al-Ahly went through the group stage unbeaten.

Al Gharafa had already sewn up the second qualifying spot, meaning their 3-1 loss at Sepahan was not a costly one.

Amin Jahan Alian put Sepahan ahead after 10 minutes and, although Majdi Siddiq equalised just before half-time, second-half strikes from Mohammad Gholami and Mohamadreza Khalatbari sealed the win for the hosts.

In Group D, Esteghlal booked their place in the last 16 thanks to their 1-0 win over Al-Ain.

Javad Nekounam's 79th-minute penalty was the only difference between the two sides as the Iranian club sealed their progression.

Al Hilal finished group runners-up after their 2-0 win over Qatari side Al Rayyan.

Nawaf Al-Abed and substitute Saad Al-Harthi were the scorers against the group's bottom side, who finished their campaign with only one win and a draw to their name.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.


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