Paulinho struck 15 minutes from time to give Guangzhou Evergrande a 1-0 advantage over Kashima Antlers in their AFC Champions League last-16 tie.
Brazil midfielder Paulinho, who won the tournament with Guangzhou in 2015, converted from close range when Yu Hanchao's corner skidded across the six-yard box to catch out the Antlers defence.
Kawasaki Frontale and Al-Hilal are in command of their ties after respective away wins at Muangthong United and Esteghlal Khuzestan.
Kawasaki were 1-0 down at the interval at SCG Stadium after Muangthong skipper Teerasil Dangda struck in stoppage time.
But Kengo Nakamura levelled midway through the second half and substitute Yu Kobayashi followed his sweetly volleyed second by setting up Hiroyuki Abe to put Toru Oniki's men 3-1 ahead and firmly in charge.
Al-Hilal were similarly behind to a late first-half goal from Hassan Beit Saeid but two in the space of six minutes before the hour from Abdullah Al Zori and Carlos Eduardo turned the tie around and sealed a 2-1 scoreline on the night.
Elsewhere, Persepolis were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Lekhwiya and could ultimately rue Mehdi Taremi having a penalty brilliantly saved by Qasem Burhan in the 82nd minute.