Al Duhail and Kashima Antlers made the most of home advantage, beating Persepolis and Tianjin Quanjian 1-0 and 2-0 respectively, in the first legs of their AFC Champions League quarter-finals.
Kashima Antlers took the lead on the hour, defensive chaos leading to a clever headed pass from captain Yasushi Endo to pick out Leo Silva, who drilled home past Zhang Lu.
And the hosts added a second goal in the 72nd minute, Serginho collecting a pass from Koki Anzai and rifling in a stunning long-range effort.
With Alexandre Pato's threat snuffed out and Tianjin Quanjian unable to force an away goal in reply, the Japanese side look in good shape to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time in their history.
Al Duhail came into their quarter-final on a run of eight straight AFC Champions League victories and the Qatari side scored the winner against last season's semi-finalists Persepolis inside 15 minutes at Khalifa International Stadium.
Edmilson Junior stood up a fine cross and Almoez Ali was lurking at the back post to head the ball through the arms of goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, giving his side a slender advantage ahead of the return leg in Iran.