Goulart brace proves good enough for Guangzhou

(China Daily)
Updated: 2017-05-11 06:50:09

Ricardo Goulart of Guangzhou Evergrande celebrates scoring against Suwon Samsung Bluewings in their Asian Champions League match in Guangzhou on Tuesday. The match ended 2-2. Liu Dawei / Xinhua

GUANGZHOU - A Ricardo Goulart double steered two-time winner Guangzhou Evergrande into the Asian Champions League last 16 as it drew 2-2 with Suwon Samsung Bluewings of South Korea on Tuesday.

After canceling out Yeom Ki-hun's opener, Goulart looked offside as he headed Evergrande 2-1 ahead in the 68th minute before Kim Jong-woo's late equalizer caused some late jitters.

But the single point was enough to take Evergrande, the 2013 and 2015 champion, into the knockout rounds in second place in Group G behind Japan's Kawasaki Frontale.

Evergrande boss Phil Scolari celebrated wildly on the touchline as the Chinese giant erased memories of last year's embarrassing group-stage exit when it was defending champion.

Japan's Kawasaki smashed Hong Kong debutants Eastern, led by its trailblazing female coach Chan Yuen-ting, 4-0 to rise from third place to top spot.

Elsewhere, Ji Xiang's 81st-minute winner handed Group H table-topper Jiangsu Suning a 1-0 win over 2008 runner-up Adelaide United.

Ji produced a clinical finish when it mattered - in what was only the Chinese team's second shot on target - to end Adelaide's faint hopes of progressing.

South Korea's Jeju United made sure of second spot when it beat Gamba Osaka 2-0 on goals from Chung Woon and Hwang Il-su.

Chung scored on a deflected shot in the 29th minute before Hwang's memorable strike in the 66th, when he cut inside a defender and curled in from a distance.

In Guangzhou, Yeom made the home fans tense when he scored from a cut-back in the ninth minute, before Brazilian Goulart equalized eight minutes later.

Evergrande then grabbed a 2-1 lead when former Cruzeiro forward Goulart headed in Gao Lin's cross from what replays showed was an offside position.

With 10 minutes left, Suwon's Kim made it 2-2, expertly creating space with a Cruyff turn before rifling a left-foot shot in off the post.

But Evergrande, which has won the last six Chinese Super League titles, held on to maintain its bid for a third Asian trophy in five years.

Meanwhile, in West Asia there were no surprises as Dubai-based Al Ahli topped Group A on goal difference after it thrashed Lokomotiv of Uzbekistan 4-0 at home.

Salmeen Khamis put the Emiratis ahead with a 27th-minute strike before a Mamur Ikramov own goal in the second half helped it consolidate.

Further strikes by Ghanaian former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan and Everton Ribeiro put the result beyond doubt.

Iran's Esteghlal also finished with 11 points after edging Saudi Arabia's Al Tawoon 2-1 to secure second spot and advance to the last 16.

Group B also panned out as expected with Qatari champion Lekhwiya emerging as the top team after a 4-1 romp over Saudi Arabia's Al Fateh in Doha.

Mohamed Musa, Yousef Msakni, Ali Hassan Afif and Chico Flores were on target for Lekhwiya in the first half while Al Fateh pulled one back thanks to an own goal by Flores attempting a clearance from a corner.

Lekhwiya - aiming to emulate its local rival Al Sadd's amazing title-winning run in 2011 - finished with 14 points, while Iran's Esteghlal Kouzestan played out a 1-1 draw with Emirati side Al Jazira to confirm its spot in the last 16 with nine points.

Agence France - Presse

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