Argentine wizard Dario Conca inspired Guangzhou Evergrande to a 4-0 win over Muangthong United and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Kashiwa Reysol also enjoyed big victories as goals flowed in the AFC Champions League Wednesday.
Guangzhou, the Chinese double-winners led by World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, were matched until the break by the battling Thais before Conca started a second-half rout with a 51st-minute header, and finished it with a coolly taken penalty in injury time.
In between, Brazilian forward Muriqui took a return pass on the edge of the box before planting a sublime second goal for Guangzhou, and midfield maestro Conca had a hand in Gao Lin's well-worked strike on 84 minutes in front of a packed house in southern China.
Guangzhou, the ambitious and deep-pocketed club with designs on becoming China's first Asian champions since 1998, inch forward to a two-point lead in Group F, ahead of Jeonbuk who rise to second after their 3-1 win over Urawa Red Diamonds.
In a clash of two of the tournament's former winners, Japan's Urawa got on the scoresheet early when Genki Haraguchi, capitalising on Tomoaki Makino's mazy dribble into the box, belted them in front on six minutes.
Haraguchi should have doubled the lead five minutes later, and Brazilian Marcio Richardes rifled just wide and then hit the post, as the home team went on the rampage. Haraguchi was also denied from a close-range header just before the break.
Yosuke Kashiwagi put it over the bar early in the second half but Jeonbuk came roaring back into it when Lee Seun-Gi buried a screaming strike, teed up on the edge of the box after a free-kick, on 51 minutes to level the scores at 1-1.
Substitute striker Lee Dong-Gook put the visitors ahead when he arrowed a diving header into the Urawa goal on 64 minutes, and Brazilian midfielder Eninho completed the win when he fired a swerving shot over Urawa's stranded 'keeper with 20 minutes to go.
However, Jeonbuk's flurry of goals was eclipsed in Suwon Bluewings' game against Kashiwa, where the Korean hosts missed three penalties during a crazy encounter which featured seven second-half goals.
Junya Tanaka put visitors Kashiwa ahead on 16 minutes but the game suddenly came alive in the second half when Dzenan Radoncic's penalty miss was followed by three goals in quick succession for 3-1.
Jong Tae-Se's fluffed penalty was then followed immediately by Tanaka's second strike to make it 4-1. Stevica Ristic finally scored a penalty for Suwon to for 4-2, but there was still time for another penalty miss as Ryoichi Kurisawa and Masato Kudo both grabbed their second goals to round off the scoring.
Earlier Australia's Central Coast Mariners, who had won only one of 14 previous ACL games, had looked set for further heartbreak against China's Guizhou Renhe after an own goal by goalkeeper Mat Ryan cancelled out Pedj Bojic's spectacular 50th-minute opener.
But with nine minutes left, New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey whipped in a tantalising cross for the unmarked Trent Sainsbury to head in at the far post and clinch a 2-1 win, lifting the Mariners to second in Group H behind runaway leaders Kashiwa.
"We made it real hard for ourselves," Mariners coach Graham Arnold said. "We should have been up 3-0."
In late Group B action, Qatari outfit Lekhwiya saw off Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan 3-1 in Doha to maintain their unbeaten record with Qatar international Sebastian Soria bagging a brace to go top of Group B by a point with three games remaining.
In the same group, Nasser Masood scored the only goal of the game in the 81st minute as Al Shabab Al Arabi of the United Arab Emirates kept their hopes alive in beating Ettifaq of Saudi Arabia 1-0 in Dubai.
In Group D, 2003 tournament winners Al Ain of the UAE edged out Qatar's Al Rayyan with Jires Kembo-Ekoko and Alex Brosque netting after Nilmar had netted for the visitors, who stay rooted to the bbottom of their pool.
"The win came at a difficult time as we have a heavy schedule," Al Ain coach Cosmin Olaroiu said.
"I'm happy that we managed to win the match, which was hard, and the win came in difficult circumstances because we missed some key players while other players were returning from injuries like Omar Abdulrahman and Mirel Radoi," he toldAFC.com.
Also in Group D, Iranian side Esteghlal went back top with late goals in a 2-1 away to Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia.
Salem Al Dawsari put the hosts ahead at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium midway through the second half but the Iranians turned the match on its head as Pejman Montazeri headed in before substitute Arash Borhani notched the clincher four minutes from time.
Esteghlal now top the section on seven points, one clear of Al Ain and four ahead of Al Hilal.