Aussies Abroad Wrap: Boyle kicks off Champions League campaign, Sainsbury cool from the penalty spot

The Asian Champions League has returned once again, with many Australians in the mix for the continent's grandest competition

Matin Boyle kicked off his first continental campaign, while many of our domestic stars set to jet overseas, for the hub-style tournament.

Meanwhile Trent Sainsbury showed his leadership qualities once again, wearing the armband and scoring a crucial penalty against Vincent Kompany's Anderlecht.

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In a clash where both Werder Bremen and Jackson Irvine's FC St Pauli could claim top spot outright with 3 points, neither side could capitalise on their chances, with the match in Bremen finishing 1-1, with rivals Schalke now taking the promotion boxseat in the 2. Bundesliga. The Australian midfielder played the full match away from home, being pushed further right from the position usually seen at international level, using his speed down the flank to trouble the home side.

Ajdin Hrustic came off the bench for Eintracht Frankfurt against Freiburg this weekend, yet was unable to help his team overcome a 2-1 home deficit, with Frankfurt having now slipped out of contention for a UEFA Champions League spot. There is still a chance for immediate redemption however, with Hrustic and Co travelling mid-week to the Camp Nou, where either they or FC Barcelona will progress to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.

England & Scotland 

Nathaniel Atkinson and his Hearts side will head into the last round of the Scottish Premiership on a high, after getting the better of Hibernian at home 3-1, despite the visitors taking an early lead after just five minutes. Socceroo Atkinson was in the starting 11 once again, having immensely impressed his new Scottish employers, with the wing-back showcasing his damaging running game.

All eyes will be on 3rd place Hearts, and whether they can contest Scotland's two giants of Celtic and Rangers for the league title.

Riley McGree returned from injury, playing 90 minutes in Middlesborough's 1-0 loss at the hands of Hull City in the English Championship over the weekend. 

Boro sit eighth after the weekend's action just three points adrift of the play off positions with six matches left to play in the 2021/22 season.

Mainland Europe

Denis Genreau and Toulouse FC acquired their 4th consecutive league victory in Ligue 2 over the weekend, but more importantly, the 4-2 result away Guingamp has seen Toulouse stretch their lead at the top-of-the-table to eight points, with just 10 points now required from their last six games, to gain promotion.

Genreau was in the action once again despite starting the match as a substitute, eventually being introduced just after the hour mark, helping his side extend their advantage late in the match.

In Belgium, James Jeggo was involved in the full 90 minutes for AS Eupen, as the border-town side lost their final match 2-0 at home to KV Oostende. Despite the poor result, it was a day of celebration, after Eupen had secured safety prior to the final day, with the supporters in a lively mood throughout the match regardless of the outcome.

Meanwhile compatriot Trent Sainsbury has finished the campaign with another goal, this time by an even more unlikely source than his headed brace from just a month ago. Starting the match for his club Kortrijk as club captain, at home to Belgian giants Anderlecht, the hosts were given an early glimmer of hope with a penalty within the first 20 minutes.

Incredibly it was the Aussie defender who put his hand up, and after a faint slide of the body in the run-up, calmly tapped the ball past the goalkeeper. The 3-2 defeat was not the desired result for Kortrijk, but Socceroos fans still saw a glimmer of what their experienced centre-back is capable of, both at the back and in front of goal.

Life in Norway has started in the best possible fashion for utility midfielder Gianni Stensness, with his side Viking Fotballklubb recording their 2nd win of the season from as many matches, defeating Aalesund at home 1-0. The 23-year-old was involved from the start once again, playing 90 minutes at centre-back, a position that is now becoming regular after starring against Saudi Arabia in Australia's backline.

Joel King was unable to build on his most recent win in the Danish Superliga, with club side Odensk BK leaving SønderjyskE with a 2-2 draw. The 21-year-old has started every match of his OB career so far and was included in the run-on side once again, with the defender brought off with 15 minutes to play as his team looked for a late equaliser. 

Now to Turkey, where Aziz Behich was enormous for Giresunspor away at Yeni Malatyaspor, holding out the hosts to a clean sheet and securing a famous 1-0 victory, which may now be enough to ensure safety for Behich's side. 

Awer Mabil was also in action in the Turkish Süper Lig, with his side Kasimpasa beaten away from home by mid-table outfit Faith Karagümrük. The winger was unable to continue to his prolific start to life in Turkey, only given a half worth of football, after starting the game on the substitutes bench.

Asia & The Middle-East

In Japan, Mitch Duke returned to the scoresheet for Fagiano Okayama, with an important second goal in their match away at Ryūkyū. Having led throughout the entire match however, the home side grabbed an equaliser in stoppage time to dash the hopes of Okayama, who were on course to return to the top 4 of Japan's second division, and more importantly regain their spot inside the play-off promotion positions.

Saudi side Al-Faisaly have escaped Jordanian outfit Al-Wehdat with a point in their opening group match in the AFC Asian Champions League. Martin Boyle was amongst those who travelled with the side and will be looking to make the most of their hub-style situation, as he hopes to back up mid-week after playing all 90 minutes in their opening match.

United States

Columbus Crew and Socceroo defender Milos Degenek suffered a heartbreaking loss in the MLS East's top-of-the-table clash, losing 1-0 away at Philadelphia Union. Degenek and his team were aware of the potent attacking threat that the Union possessed, yet could do nothing about a 2nd minute own goal that saw the Crew fall behind early. Despite the loss, Degenek was impressive for the full 90 minutes, repelling the Pennsylvania outfit, who had control fo the majority of the tie.