Lekhwiya lose in China, Set sight on return match
Guangzhou,China: Aquickfiredouble from South American duo DarioConcaandElkesoninside the final 20 minutes saw Chinese champions GuangzhouEvergrandetake a huge step towards a maiden AFC Champions League semi-final appearance after beating Qatar’sLekhwiya2-0 on Wednesday.
MarcelloLippi’sGuangzhou dominated for long periods inside a boisterousTianheSport Center but struggled to find a breakthrough with AFC Champions League leading scorerMuriqui(LuizGuilhermedaConceiçãoSilva) wasting the best chance for thehomeside midway through the first half.
But with 18 minutes remainingConcacoolly converted from the penalty spot beforeElkeson(Elkesonde OliveiraCardoso) marked his AFC Champions League debut with a composed finish three minutes later to hand 2012 quarter-finalists Guangzhou the advantage ahead of the second leg in Doha on September 18.
Guangzhou took control of the quarter-final first leg from the first whistle with strikersGaoLin andElkeson(pictured) as well as full-back ZhangLinpengcoming close for the hosts inside the opening 15 minutes to the delight of anothercolourfulcapacity crowd, withLekhwiyarestricted to limited forays into the attacking third.
And the opening goal the crowd craved for appeared to have arrived after 25 minutes asConca’sclever chipped pass found Zhang charging into space and the right backs low cross foundMuriquiracing into the penalty area only for the Brazilian to inexplicably blaze over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
But despite Guangzhou’s dominance, it wasLekhwiyawho registered the first shot on target four minutes later as Korean midfielder NamTae-heetested goalkeeperZengCheng with a low drive from just outside the area.
Guangzhou, though, continued to dominate althoughLekhwiyagoalkeeper Claude Amine remained untested asGaoandConcaboth sent efforts skidding narrowly the wrong side of the visitors’ upright.
But with the last kick of the first half Guangzhou goalkeeperZenghad to be on his toes to keep out a well-stuck effort from loneLekhwiyastriker SebastianSoriaat his near post.
Amine was finally tested on the hour mark as theLekhwiyacustodian made a superb point blank save to denyConcawith theArgentinianseemingly on course to break the deadlock afterElkesonhad directed SunXiang’scross into his path inside the six yard area.
But Amine could do nothing with 18 minutes remaining asConcacoolly sent the custodian the wrong way from the penalty spot after theArgentinianhad been clumsily upended inside the area.
And just three minutes later Amine was beaten for a second time in quick succession as theLekhwiyagoalkeeper allowedElkeson’slow strike to squirm under his body as the Brazilian added to the 20 goals he has scored in 21 Chinese Super League appearances this season.
A third almost arrived soon after asMuriquiskipped past Amine, but fortunately forLekhwiya, the Brazilian lost his balance at the crucial moment and could only fire into the side netting.