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Paulinho powers Evergrande

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-01 06:55

Paulinho powers Evergrande

Paulinho celebrates scoring for Guangzhou Evergrande in Tuesday's 2-1 AFC Champions League loss to Japan's Kashima Antlers in Kawasaki that put the Chinese champion into the quarterfinals. Provided To China Daily

KAWASAKI, Japan - Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho notched Guangzhou Evergrande's only goal as the two-time champion squeezed past Kashima Antlers on away goals on Tuesday to reach the AFC Champions League quarterfinals.

Paulinho, the scorer in last week's 1-0 win in Guangzhou, tapped in after 55 minutes, and it was enough to put the Chinese team through despite its 2-1 defeat on the night.

The result was cruel for Kashima, which went ahead through Pedro Junior's superb strike in the first half and scored again via Mu Kanazaki in injury time for an aggregate score of 2-2.

But it was a major step forward for Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chinese Super League leader, which lifted the Asian title in 2013 and 2015 but exited last year at the group stage.

Kashima's Brazilian star Pedro Junior showed skill and tenacity to open the scoring in the 28th minute when he brushed off two challenges and launched a brilliant shot into the top corner.

Evergrande nearly hit back when Liu Jian's full-stretch volley rebounded off the post, but the most dazzling attacking play was at the other end.

Pedro Junior skilfully lifted a ball to his fellow Brazilian Leandro, whose volley went straight at the goalkeeper, before Shoma Doi blasted a close-range half-volley over the bar.

The host looked comfortable but Evergrande seized back the initiative in the 55th minute when Wang Shangyuan's long throw-in was flicked on by Gao Lin.

Alan's wriggling turn-and-shot came off the near post and bounced across the face of the goal, leaving Paulinho with a simple finish to make it 2-1 on aggregate.

Kanazaki, who came on for Leandro on the hour mark, crashed a stoppage-time shot in off the bar, but Kashima had run out of time to make a comeback.

In Tuesday's other last-16 tie in Japan, Kawasaki Frontale beat Thailand's Muangthong United 4-1 to complete a 7-2 aggregate win.

A three-goal burst in 10 first-half minutes guaranteed a quarterfinal spot for the host as it thrashed Muangthong once again after last week's 3-1 win.

Yu Kobayashi's goal set the host on its way in the 31st minute before his cut-back found Tatsuya Hasegawa for Kawasaki's second just a minute later.

Eduardo Neto's header in the 40th made it 3-0 and Brazilian midfielder Rhayner got the fourth in the 79th minute before Teerasil Dangda grabbed a late consolation for Muangthong.

Mixed luck for Iran

In West Asia, Iranian teams had mixed luck as Persepolis advanced to the quarterfinals while Esteghlal Khouzestan crashed out.

Persepolis ended Qatar champion Lekhwiya's hopes of emulating Al Sadd's 2011 winning run with a lucky 1-0 win after they played to a scoreless draw in their first leg clash last week.

Saudi giant Al Hilal also progressed, overcoming Esteghlal Khouzestan 4-2 on aggregate after a 2-1 victory in a match that ended well past midnight due to the observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Persepolis was clearly unlucky in the first leg, missing several chances, including a penalty, but the tide turned in its favor on Tuesday when a Chico Flores own goal in the 23rd minute gave it a 1-0 aggregate win.

Flores diverted a Mehedi Taremi shot across the goal into his own net in what was Lekhwiya's last competitive match before merging with El Jaish next season to form a new team called Al Duhail Sports Club.

Lekhwiya dominated possession and created several chances, but the Persepolis defense managed to hold firm and keep the threatening duo of Nam Tae-hee and Youssef al-Arabi at bay.

Meanwhile, Omar Kharbin and Salem al-Dawsari were on target for Al Hilal as it defeated Esteghlal Khouzestan 2-1 to run out 4-2 winners on aggregate.

Khouzestan appeared to be on track to overturn its 2-1 loss in the first leg when Aloys Nong gave it the lead in the 12th minute from a Mahdi Zobeidi assist.

But Kharbin stooped low to head in a Mohamed al-Burayk cross four minutes later for the equalizer, and al-Dawsari struck eight minutes from time to ensure Al Hilal's quarterfinal spot.

Agence France - Presse

 

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