Guangzhou Evergrande got the point it wanted and a berth in the Asian Champions League playoffs by drawing with Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-2 on Tuesday.
Guangzhou, which has won two of the last four continental championships and the last six Chinese Super Leagues, needed a point to progress to the last 16 but had to work hard against the South Korean side, another former two-time champion, in Group G.
Yeom Ki-hun put Suwon ahead after eight minutes but nine minutes later, Robert Goulart, signed for around $18 million in 2015, fired home from outside the area.
Goulart headed in a second midway through the second half and Guangzhou held on after Kim Jung-woo equalized for Suwon, which was eliminated.
Kawasaki Frontale of Japan took top spot above Guangzhou by routing Eastern SC of Hong Kong 4-0.
Adelaide United, Australia's only hope of a representative in the last 16, was eliminated when Ji Xiang scored the only goal with nine minutes remaining for the already-qualified Jiangsu Suning to win 1-0.
Jeju United of South Korea joined Jiangsu in the second round with a comfortable win over Gamba Osaka 2-0. Chung Woon opened the scoring in the first half and Hwang Il-su sealed the win with a spectacular second-half strike.
As expected, 2016 runner-up Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates took top spot by defeating Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan 3-0, while Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli finished second thanks to beating Iran's Zob Ahan 2-0.