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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

FC Tokyo blanks Beijing Guoan


FC Tokyo retained the Group F lead in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday as the Emperor's Cup holders cruised to a 3-0 victory over Beijing Guoan.

Ranko Popovic's side delighted the home fans at Ajinomoto Stadium where Kazuma Watanabe, Yohei Otake and substitute Tatsuya Yazawa all scored to keep Tokyo ahead of the K-League's Ulsan Hyundai on goal difference.

Tokyo and Ulsan, who beat Brisbane Roar 2-1 away, are both on eight points with two matches left in the first round of Asia's flagship club competition.

Tokyo played Beijing off the park in the opening half, and had two goals to show for it at halftime. The two sides had battled to a 1-1 draw on April 4 in Beijing, but Tokyo was comfortably the better team this time round.

The hosts wasted little time moving in front as Watanabe struck his first goal of the Champions League in the seventh minute, a header off the right post from a Naohiro Ishikawa free kick.

Tokyo came within inches of another in the 24th minute when the pint-sized Otake keyed the break, only for Ishikawa to fall short of putting away the final pass from Watanabe.

Otake, who tormented Beijing all night with his pace and guile, took matters into his own hands in the only minute of first-half injury time.

Ariajasuru Hasegawa sliced the midfield with a ball for Watanabe, whose cutback from the right byline deflected off Beijing midfielder Darko Matic.

Otake was in the right place at the right time to nod in the loose ball for what was his first strike of the year.

Three minutes into the second half, Tokyo suffered a casualty as holding midfielder Takuji Yonemoto went down injured, needing to be stretchered away for medical attention. Yonemoto's status was not immediately known.

His replacement Yazawa, however, made the most of the misfortune in the 57th minute, hitting home Tokyo's third to seal the victory.

In China, J.League champions Kashiwa Reysol kicked off later on Tuesday at Guangzhou Evergrande.

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