AFC Champions League Match Day 2: The Top 5

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

With Match Day 2 of the 2018 AFC Champions League done and dusted, FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan picks the five best-performing stars of this week.

Mehdi Taremi (Al Gharafa)

The latter half of 2017 may have been a difficult time for Mehdi Taremi, as he was slapped with a four-month ban by FIFA for reneging on an agreement with Turkish club Caykur Rizespor to rejoin Persepolis.

However, the new year has brought a new beginning for Taremi with Qatar’s Al Gharafa.

Having already netted in last week’s 3-2 loss to Al Jazira, Taremi was the star of the show as Al Gharafa got their campaign up and running with a 3-0 triumph over Tractor Sazi.

The 25-year-old opened the scoring with a trademark thumping header, forced Sime Gregor into scoring an own-goal for his side’s second, before rounding things off with a clinical finish inside the area right at the death.

Youssef El-Arabi (Al Duhail)

As Urawa Red Diamonds and Rafael Silva proved last year, the key to success in the tournament can sometimes be down to having a striker who is not always involved in proceedings but can capitalise when an opportunity arises.

In Youssef El-Arabi, Al Duhail appear to have found the classic poacher to fuel their ACL quest this season.

The French-born Morocco international’s predatory instincts were on full display in Monday’s 3-2 win at Al Wahda as he netted twice to help Al Duhail to their second straight win.

Kim Jin-su (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)

Brazilian striker Adriano may have been the star of the show for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors with a hat-trick in their 6-0 triumph over Kitchee, but equally impressive was left wing-back Kim Jin-su.

Still only 25, the Jeonju native boasts European experience from his time in Germany with Hoffenheim and his capture was a key reason behind Jeonbuk winning the K League 1 title last season.

Kim already has two goals in as many games in the Champions League season and already appears to be a certain starter for Korea Republic when the 2018 FIFA World Cup comes around in June.

Oscar (Shanghai SIPG)

If Oscar’s inconsistent form had been the embodiment of Shanghai SIPG’s displays in 2017, his brilliant start to the new season bodes extremely well for their prospects over the next nine months or so.

There was never any doubt over the quality the former Chelsea star and Brazil international brought to the Red Eagles, but he struggled to make a regular impact throughout his first year in China.

But it looks as though Oscar has now fully adapted to life in Shanghai and, with Cai Huikang and Odil Ahmedov ably supporting him, he has all the freedom to inflict damage on opposition sides, as he did to Melbourne Victory on Tuesday.

Lee Chang-min (Jeju United)

For all his obvious ability, it can be argued that – at the age of 24 – Lee Chang-min is yet to fully deliver on his promise.

In his defence, he has not been helped by his versatility and has been regularly asked to fill various roles but – with a World Cup fast approaching – it is crucial he finds some continuity if he wants to convince Korea Republic coach Shin Tae-yong to bring him to Russia.

Against Buriram United on Wednesday, Lee started in the heart of midfield but had the defensive-minded Kim Soo-beom doing the majority of the dirty work, and was also afforded the freedom to roam wherever he pleased.

By the time he was brought off in the 80th minute, Lee had produced a man-of-the-match display – one which also included a second-minute opener – and looks like he could play a big part in the future of South Korean football, along with Jeju team-mate Ryu Seung-woo.

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