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Lippi wary despite huge away victory

By Agence France-Presse in Singapore | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-27 07:10

Guangzhou on target for AFC Champions League final after mighty victory in Japan

Marcello Lippi remained cautious about Guangzhou Evergrande's chances of reaching the AFC Champions League final despite its 4-1 rout of Kashiwa Reysol in the semifinal first leg.

The World Cup-winning coach, who also led Juventus to the European Champions League title, was wary of "tough" Kashiwa even after the Chinese champion's emphatic away win late on Wednesday.

"I don't think we have got (a place in the final) yet," said the veteran campaigner.

"I'm 64 years old this year and have been in the coaching business for 30 years, and from that experience I can tell you that you never know what will happen next in football, and Reysol have ability and were a tough side to play this time."

Guangzhou was rocked by an early goal from on-loan Brazilian striker Cleo, now playing a starring role at Kashiwa, before pouring on the goals after halftime.

Muriqui equalized with a thumping strike from close range before a rocket from the left foot of Dario Conca put the visitors ahead with 23 minutes to go.

Conca scored his second straight from a corner on 82 minutes and Muriqui also completed his brace when he rounded the goalkeeper in the dying seconds.

The victory, which underlined Guangzhou's status as tournament favorite, was all the more impressive because Kashiwa had been unbeaten throughout the competition.

Lippi wary despite huge away victory

Lippi's side is gunning to end a 23-year continental drought for Chinese clubs dating back to Liaoning's 1990 triumph in the Asian Club Championship, the Champions League's predecessor.

"We are still on the way to moving on to the next stage. But we want to win to advance to the next round," Lippi said.

Meanwhile, Iran's Esteghlal is confident of overturning a 2-0 away defeat to FC Seoul in next Wednesday's return leg at the intimidating Azadi Stadium in Teheran.

Goals from Dejan Damjanovic and Go Yo-han gave Seoul the win but the host may rue missing some late chances which could have made next week's away trip more comfortable.

"One of our aims was to score an away goal, we tried a lot but we couldn't score," said Esteghlal coach Amir Ghalenoei.

"But the conditions in Teheran are completely different and I believe that we can solve that problem.

"It would have been good if we had scored but I think in Teheran we can score two goals. We will attack a lot and we will play to the best of our abilities in the second match."

Both semifinal second legs will be played next Wednesday with the winners then going into a two-leg final.

(China Daily 09/27/2013 page23)

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