Pelle, who signed for Shandong from Premier League club Southampton in 2016, put his team ahead with a header midway through the first half. He added the second in the 77th minute after Woo Ju-sung and Kim Seung-jun had given Gyeongnam the lead in its debut appearance in the competition.
Malaysian club Johor Darul Ta'zim also was making history in the tournament, and also lost in Group E. The first team from Malaysia to appear in the Asian Champions League lost to defending champion Kashima Antlers 2-1.
Taiki Hirato and Serginho scored a goal each for the Japanese team.
South Korean club Daegu won its debut game in the Asian Champions League, beating Melbourne Victory 3-1 in Group F.
Cesinha scored with a spectacular half-volley in the 31st minute, two minutes after the hosts had taken the lead in Melbourne. Hwang Soon-min then put Daegu ahead in the second half and Brazilian forward Edgar added the third.
In the other Group F match, Brazilian teammates Anderson Talisco and Paulinho scored a goal each to give Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande a 2-0 victory over Japanese rival Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports