A 1-1 draw against Guizhou Renze was enough to see Kashiwa Reysol advance to the last 16 of the Asian Champions League as Group H winner.
Tatsuya Masushima put the Japanese host ahead early in the second half and a win looked on the cards until
However, the point was still enough to secure top spot in the group with one round of matches remaining.
Central Coast Mariners leapfrogged Guizhou into second place with a 1-0 victory at Suwon Bluewings, courtesy of
The newly crowned A-League champion is now one point better off than Guizhou, which faces Suwon in its final group match next week.
Group G will go to the wire after Bunyodkor was held to a goalless draw by Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Pohang Steelers was beaten at Beijing Guoan.
Former semi-finalist Bunyodkor went into its match knowing a victory would take it through to the last 16 but it was unable to break down the J.League champion.
It remains at the top of the group, however, with a one-point lead over Beijing Guoan which was a 2-0 winner over Pohang Steelers.
The South Korean side also had the chance to advance but goals from Joffre Guerron (47) and
Bunyodkor travels to Pohang for its group finale next week while Sanfrecce, which cannot progress to the knockout stage, takes on Beijing.
Al Gharafa joined Al-Ahly in the next round after a 2-2 draw against the Group C leader.
The Qatar club took the lead after 23 minutes through Alex but that was cancelled out by Amad Al Hosni eight minutes later.
A 54th-minute penalty from Djibril Cisse put Al Gharafa in the driving seat once more only for Jairo Palomino to reply for Al Ahly after 69 minutes.
The result brought an end to Al Ahly's 100 per cent record in the group and also crushed Sepahan's hopes of progressing, despite its own 2-1 victory at Al-Nasr.
Goals from Radomir Djalovic (29) and Mohammad Gholami (79) sandwiched Younis Ameen's 72nd-minute reply, but the win was not enough for the Iranian champion, which lies four points behind the top two with one round remaining.
Esteghlal sealed its berth in the last 16 for the second successive season with a 3-0 home win over 10-man Al Rayyan, which now has no chance of finishing in the top two of Group D.
Captain Farhad Majidi opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time with Hashem Beikzadeh added a second in the 73rd minute and, after Al Rayyan had lost Fabio Cesar Montezine to a red card with 15 minutes remaining, substitute Arash Borhani completed the scoring late on for the Iranian side.
Esteghlal now has 10 points from games in Group D, one point clear of Al Hilal and four above Al-Ain.
Saudi side Al Hilal edged closer to a place in the next phase with a 2-0 win newly-crowned UAE champion Al-Ain, Salem Al-Dosari and Wesley netting both goals in the opening 24 minutes.
AFC Champions League
Melbourne Victory is walking the tightrope in both the A-League and AFC Champions League, but star forward Kosta Barbarouses says the team doesn't want a safety net.