Tianjin: Tianjin Teda rose to the top of Group E in the 2011 AFC Champions League as Cao Yang's second-half penalty clinched a hard-fought 2-1 win over Gamba Osaka at Tianjin Teda Stadium on Tuesday.
Both sides were looking to consolidate their position in the group after respective opening victories over Jeju United and Melbourne Victory and Chen Tao’s spectacular long-range strike put the hosts ahead midway through the first-half before Lee Keun-ho cancelled it out on the half-hour mark with a close-range shot.
Chen then earned a penalty for Tianjin six minutes into the second period after being challenged by Kazumichi Takagi. Cao converted to secure maximum points for the Chinese Super League runners-up.
Tianjin proved the more dangerous side from the outset as their attacking line caused problems for the Gamba defence.
Li Weifeng asked the first question of Yosuke Fujigaya after two minutes, heading Chen’s corner straight at the goalkeeper.
The visitors looked for an immediate reply with Takashi Usami’s long-range effort two minutes later deflecting off a Tianjin defender.
Luciano Olguin had the ball in the net for Tianjin after 22 minutes but the Argentine striker had strayed offside before firing past Fujigaya.
Just two minutes later, the hosts opened the scoring when Chen played a one-two with Olguin before curling home from 30 yards.
Brazilian forward Adriano then delivered a well-weighted cross into the path of Lee who made no mistake in driving the ball beyond keeper Yang Qipeng from 15 yards as Gamba levelled the match in the 30th minute.
Yu Dabao threatened to restore the hosts' lead 10 minutes before the interval with an angled shot but Fujigaya reacted quickly to keep him at bay.
Adriano’s solo run three minutes later looked more dangerous and it ended with the striker driving into the penalty area to stab a left-footed shot that was palmed away by Yang.
Five minutes after the break, Chen’s 20-year left-footed shot hit a Gamba defender but the midfielder collected the rebound and fired a second attempt that flew just wide.
One minute later, Chen was brought down in the box by Takagi in full flight and the referee awarded the hosts a penalty that Cao calmly steered past Fujigaya.
Gamba stepped up their attacking intent for the remainder of the game while Tianjin appeared more defence-minded to protect their slender lead.
Lee posed a threat to Tianjin goal seven minutes from time only to see his header fly wide. Yang then made two superb saves just before the final whistle to ensure the hosts kept all three points, parrying a close-range header from Kim Seung-yong before denying Hayato Sasaki’s follow-up with a reflex stop.