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Shanghai dodges ACL bullet

China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-14 07:17

Shanghai dodges ACL bullet

Ricardo Goulart (right) of Guangzhou Evergrande fights for the ball with a Shanghai SIPG player during their AFC Champions League quarterfinal second leg in Guangzhou on Tuesday. Two-time champion Evergrande lost in a penalty shootout. [Photo/Xinhua]

SIPG advances to semifinals after blowing 4-0 lead over Evergrande

Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas proclaimed his club's dramatic Asian Champions League victory over archrival Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday "a great achievement" after complaining it was treated unfairly before and during the match.

"Our players were given yellow cards which I could not understand," said the former Chelsea manager. "In the firstleg match, (Guangzhou's) Zhang Linpeng should have been sent off and banned for the second leg after elbowing our player.

"Before the second leg, there were three traffic accidents on our way to the stadium. It's unbelievable that these accidents involved the same two vehicles."

After blowing a four-goal first-leg lead, SIPG reached the semifinals of the ACL for the first time by beating Chinese Super League champion Evergrande 5-4 on penalties.

"It's a great achievement and it's a great honor to get through," said Villas-Boas.

Guangzhou's Ricardo Goulart, who scored a hat-trick over the preceding 120 minutes, missed the opening spotkick of the shootout to leave Yu Hai to score the winner for SIPG at the conclusion of a remarkable quarterfinal that ended 5-5 on aggregate.

SIPG led 4-0 from the first leg, but Goulart and Alan Carvalho both scored twice for Luiz Felipe Scolari's Guangzhou to send the match into extra time.

Hulk netted a vital goal for SIPG five minutes into the second period of extra time, but Goulart again equalized the aggregate score with just two minutes remaining from penalty spot.

The Brazilian then missed the first attempt in the shootout minutes later.

Despite the loss, Evergrande's fighting spirit won kudos.

"I'm so much satisfied with the team's performances. The club will award 10 million yuan ($1.53 million) to the players. It's a return for their never-say-die spirit and teamwork," said Guangzhou Evergrande chairman Xu Jiayin.

Shanghai dodges ACL bullet

Evergrande coach Luiz Felipe Scolari (left) shakes hands with SIPG boss Andre Villas-Boas before kickoff. [Photo/Xinhua]

Evergrande can exact revenge on SIPG when the Guangdong province side attempts to overturn a 2-1 deficit in the second leg of their Chinese FA Cup semifinal on Sept 30. It also boasts an eight-point lead over second-placed SIPG in the Super League standings.

Evergrande coach Scolari dismissed Villas-Boas' accusation of "unfair treatment".

"In the first leg in Shanghai, the temperature of air conditioner in our locker room was 42. Maybe we should move their air conditioners to our stadium and let them enjoy the same," said Scolari.

The Brazilian also gave credit to his players

"It's the first time my team fought back from 0-4 behind in my 30-year coaching career," he said. "All the players are the real man. I'm proud of them."

Shanghai will meet Urawa Red Diamonds or Kawasaki Frontale, both from Japan, in the semifinals.

SIPG's expensive imports Oscar and Hulk - signed for a combined total of $137.55 million - were relative bystanders for much of the match as Evergrande dominated from start to finish.

Alan claimed Guangzhou's first goal in the 21st minute when he rounded the keeper before rolling home. He struck again 14 minutes later to give Evergrande's hopes a boost.

Shanghai dodges ACL bullet

Shanghai SIPG players and staff rejoice after their shootout victory over Guangzhou Evergrande. [Photo/Xinhua]

A series of missed chances suggested Evergrande would fall short of its target, but Goulart scored with a diving header seven minutes from fulltime to reignite his team's challenge.

The Brazilian then took the game into extra time when he redirected Li Xuepeng's cross beyond Yan Junling as Scolari's team completed a remarkable comeback.

SIPG's task was made even more difficult when Wang Jiajie was sent off seven minutes into the first period of extra time after a second booking before Hulk and Goulart traded goals in the final 10 minutes of the additional period.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal booked its place in the semifinals with a 3-0 win over Al Ain in the second leg of its quarterfinal in Riyadh on Tuesday, with all three goals coming from Carlos Eduardo.

The teams, who met in the semifinals last year when Al Ain emerged victorious, played out a scoreless draw in the United Arab Emirates last month, but Eduardo kept Al Hilal on track to claim its first continental title since winning the Asian Club Championship crown in 2000.

"I am so determined to win the Asian Champions League title with Al Hilal because it is the only tournament I have not been able to achieve with my team," said 27-year-old Brazilian Eduardo.

Al Hilal will play the winner of the meeting between Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia and Iran's Persepolis, who drew 2-2 in the first leg.

Agencies - China Daily


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