Goulart ignites Evergrande explosion

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-03-08 08:00
Ricardo Goulart of Guangzhou Evergrande celebrates after scoring during the Group G match between China's Guangzhou Evergrande and South Korea's Jeju United at the 2018 AFC Champions League in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province, March 6, 2018. Guangzhou Evergrande won 5-3. [Photo/Xinhua]

Brazilian snipes four second-half goals to seal comeback over Jeju

Ricardo Goulart definitely has a sense of drama.

The speedy striker scored four goals in the second half on Tuesday night to erase a 0-2 deficit and lead Fabio Cannavaro's Guangzhou Evergrande to a sensational 5-3 AFC Champions League victory over Jeju United in Guangzhou.

On an evening when it rained goals, Cannavaro's former club Tianjin Quanjian was thumped 6-3 at 2016 winner Jeonbuk Motors, whose giant striker Kim Shin-wook bagged his first Champions League hat-trick.

Evergrande, the club that has declared it wants to field an all-Chinese side by 2020, had to thank its two prolific Brazilian forwards for the victory over its Korean visitors.

The Chinese champion found itself trailing by two after 29 minutes at Tianhe Stadium on goals by Jin Seong-uk and Magno Cruz.

But after the break, Goulart's scoring explosion thrilled the raucous home crowd after fellow Brazilian Alan's strike deep into first-half stoppage time gave Evergrande a lifeline.

"It seems that our players don't wake up until they've been punched once or twice," said Cannavaro.

"We can't always be losing 0-2 and then start to get ourselves together. It's not because the players are not focused and I don't know why every shot from our opponents became a goal."

Cannavaro, captain of Italy's 2006 World Cup champion, had endured a stuttering start at the southern Chinese club since taking over from Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Evergrande to a seventh straight Chinese Super League (CSL) title last year.

Evergrande drew both its previous Group G matches and lost its CSL opener 5-4 to derby rival Guangzhou R&F on Friday.

But it now leads Group G by a point over Thailand's Buriram United, which enjoyed a 2-0 home win over Japan's Cerezo Osaka, courtesy of goals from Andres Tunez and Edgar Silva.

Cannavaro led Tianjin Quanjian to Champions League qualification last season and his former charges took the lead in the 10th minute in Jeonju when a partially-cleared corner was volleyed home by rightback Zhang Cheng.

The 6-foot-6 Kim saw one header disallowed before rising in the 24th minute to head the equalizer. Three minutes before halftime, Jeonbuk went ahead on a goal by Han Kyowon.

Brazilian Ricardo Lopes swept home before Kim bagged two more to complete his hat-trick in the 64th minute, and captain Choi Bo-kyung then found the net to make it 6-1.

A late Zhao Xuri header and an Alexandre Pato penalty were only consolations for the visitor as Jeonbuk made it three wins from three matches to go five points clear atop Group E.

Meanwhile, Kashiwa Reysol registered a first win in this year's competition and joined Tianjin at four points after laboring past Hong Kong's Kitchee 1-0 in Japan, thanks to Junya Ito's 66th-minute winner.

Kitchee remains in the cellar of Group E without a goal or a point so far in its debut AFC Champions League campaign but will have another shot when it hosts Kashiwa at Hong Kong Stadium next week.

In West Asia, Qatar's Duhail continued its impressive run, beating Uzbek giant Lokomotiv Tashkent 3-2 for its third straight win.

All three goals for Duhail came in the first 25 minutes, with Moroccan forward Youssef El Arabi, the highest scorer in the Qatar Stars League, twice on target and Youssel Msakni also tallying on a deft chip over Lokomotiv goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov.

Nivaldo and Marat Bikmaev scored in the 57th and 59th minutes, but Djamel Belmadi's Duhail held on to complete a deserved win.

The UAE's Al Wahda fell to its third straight loss-2-0 to Iran's Zobahan with Mortez Tabrizi scoring both goals.

Zobahan sits second behind Duhail in the standings with two wins and a defeat.

In other matches, the UAE's Al Ain and Iran's Estheglal played out a 2-2 draw while Qatar's Al Rayyan clinched a valuable away point by holding Saudi giant Al Hilal to a 1-1 draw.


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