GUANGZHOU, China, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande from China secured their place in the final 16 of the AFC Champions League (ACL) after a 2-1 win over Yokohama F. Marinos in Group G here on Tuesday.
With Jeonbuk and Melbourne tied 0-0, Guangzhou remained on top of the group. The defending champions have topped their group for three consecutive years.
Elkeson scored twice in the first half to gift the defending champions a comfortable lead. Manabu Saito pulled one back with 10 minutes remaining for Yokohama, only to see Guangzhou defend their slender lead.
Guangzhou's coach Marcello Lippi was satisfied with his team despite a minor regret for his men who failed to score more goals.
"The players presented a good match considering it was the second match for us in three days, although we could have scored up to five goals, " the 65-year-old said.
Guangzhou controlled the whole match despite a disadvantage in ball possession. The Italian coach believed it is a wise strategy to play more efficiently against Japanese teams.
"Japanese teams always do well in ball control, so I think it is important for us to make every attack count, that was exactly what we did today," he said.
A draw was enough for Guangzhou to make the final 16, but the home team started with the forward trio Elkeson, Muriqui and Gao Lin, hoping to secure the first place in group.
Guangzhou took the lead as Elkeson nodded past Japanese keeper Enomoto after Gao Lin made the cross from the right side.
Muriqui could have added another five minutes later, only to see Enomoto diverted his close range effort wide.
Seven minutes before halftime, Guangzhou doubled their lead as Elkeson lifted his effort over the keeper and make Yuzo Kobayashi's clearance all in vain.
Yokohama, who have to score three goals in the final 45 minutes to survive the group, pressed hard in the second half with Shunsuke Nakamura's free-kick denied by Zeng Cheng.
Saito finally found the net for the visitors as he send his left-footed curling effort over Zeng in the 85th minute.