Luiz Felipe Scolari's Guangzhou Evergrande are primed for an AFC Champions League semi-final spot after securing a 3-1 victory at Kashiwa Reysol.
The 2013 champions, knocked out of last year's competition in the quarters by eventual winners Western Sydney Wanderers, took the lead after just five minutes through Daisuke Suzuki's own goal.
Scolari's compatriot Paulinho doubled the visitors' advantage before the break and Gao Lin put the Chinese Super League side in full control after 58 minutes.
However, a last-gasp strike from Masato Kudo offered Kashiwa a glimpse of hope for the return leg on September 15.
In Tuesday's other quarter-final tie last season's runners-up Al Hilal prevailed 4-1 at home against Lekhwiya.