AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Shanghai Shenhua beat Perth Glory 2-1 at the Education City Stadium on Wednesday as group games in the Asian Champions League east zone resumed after a lengthy suspension due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The majority of the 32 teams in the east zone, made up of squads from Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and China, played one or two games before the global pandemic postponed the group stage in March, but three of the four Chinese representatives had yet to make their first appearance in the tournament.
Eastern zone matches are all being played in Qatar, which was selected as a hub for the remainder of the tournament.
Shanghai will have eight more games to squeeze in if it is to reach the final, due to take place against Persepolis, which has already secured its place from the west zone, on Dec. 18.
Shanghai only arrived in Doha four days ago but has played 16 domestic games since Perth was last in action and looked much sharper than its Australian opponents in the opener.
Peng Xinli opened the scoring with a low shot after just seven minutes and a mistake from Perth goalkeeper Tando Velaphi allowed Yu Hanchao to add a second eight minutes before the break.
Jonathan Aspropotamitis got one back for Perth late on but the A-League team, now pointless after two games with the first defeat coming against FC Tokyo in February, is rooted to the bottom of Group F.
“We have just finished a very intensive schedule at home,” said Yu. “Because of that we are exhausted and have injuries but in this competition, we are not just representing our club but also the city of Shanghai and China. We managed to overcome our problems and get a good start. Now the important thing is that we keep going,”
On Thursday, two more teams from Australia and China will feature as Sydney FC takes on Shanghai SIPG, which will also be playing its first game in the competition this year.
Shanghai is missing former English Premier League striker Marko Arnautovic, who has been on duty with Austria though Australian international Aaron Mooy, who joined Shanghai from English Premier League club Brighton in August, is set to face his compatriots.
“I look forward to playing against them,” Mooy said. “We are friends off the field and opponents on it. We want to get off to a good start with three points.”
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