Beijing Guoan earn 2019 berth
Jinan: Beijing Guoan secured qualification into the 2019 AFC Champions League group stage after defeating Shandong Luneng on away goals to lift the Chinese FA Cup title on Saturday.
The win gave Guoan an automatic berth in next year's AFC Champions League.
Guoan will face Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Buriram United of Thailand and the champions of Japan's Emperor's Cup in Group G, while Shandong Luneng will start their 2019 AFC Champions League campaign in the preliminary stage.
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A 2-2 away draw was enough for Guoan to pocket their fourth Chinese FA Cup title at the expense of Shandong Luneng, after the two sides have tied 1-1 in the first leg on Guoan's home soil five days ago.
Zhang Xizhe's powerful header in the 81st minute gave Guoan a 2-1 lead, 3-2 on aggregate, which meant the hosts needed at least two goals to turn over the game.
Diego Tardelli's header in the 89th minute gave them hope, but it eventually turned out to be a consolation goal.
"I would grade myself with 70 or 80 points, but I tried my best to unite the team. I will work much harder in future," said Li Xiaopeng, the head coach of Luneng.
"I should send my sincere thanks to our fans. We tried to take the title, and we fought to the last minute," the 43-year-old Li added.
Cedric Bakambu Jonathan Viera Ramos opened the scoring for the visitors at 16 minutes into the match.
But Carlos Gilberto Nascimento Silva scored the equaliser after Tardelli's free-kick was blocked by Guoan goalkeeper Hou Sen.
Luneng have won the CFA Cup title five times in history while Guoan have four now. The last time Guoan won the CFA Cup was in 2003.
Source: Xinhua News Agency, AFP
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