SIPG can get the job done in Saitama, says Pereira
Shanghai: Shanghai SIPG’s second half fightback against Urawa Red Diamonds on Tuesday convinced coach Vitor Pereira his Chinese Super League (CSL) champions can advance to the semi-finals of the 2019 AFC Champions League when the teams meet again in the second leg of their quarter-final clash next month.
Pereira’s side trailed at halftime to goals from Tomoaki Makino and Shinzo Koroki, but a pair of penalties from Brazilian striker Hulk salvaged a draw for the home side to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the last four when the teams reconvene at Saitama Stadium on September 17.
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“We saw in the first half that we conceded two goals and I think the team looked like the players were lost on the pitch, they had no confidence and we suffered a little bit,” said Pereira, who led the club to their first CSL title last season.
“But the reaction we had in the second half gives us some hope that we have the condition to win the game and that we can compete with this team. To do what we did in the second half we must have a strong spirit, we made some corrections, to not concede the space we did in the first half.
“We had chance to score two goals and a third goal and I’m happy with the reaction of my team and we must go back to what we did in the second half.”
SIPG struggled in the opening exchanges, conceding to Makino with less than three minutes on the clock before Koroki doubled Urawa’s lead on the half hour.
But Hulk’s first penalty four minutes into the second half kick-started the fightback and, with 20 minutes to go, the Brazilian levelled the scores having earlier hit the post.
“I felt we must do something to change the game and that’s why I explained in the dressing room that it was not the fault of one player,” said Pereira of his team talk at the interval. “The team must do something and risk something and I think we did well in the second half.
“At half time we were maybe out of the competition, but at the end of the game with 2-2 everything is possible. We’re in the competition and we know we have to compete.”
Urawa coach Tsuyoshi Otsuki was left to rue the way in which his side threw away their two-goal lead, although he admitted there was little between the teams over the course of the 90 minutes.
“We were very cautious, but we still conceded two goals,” he said. “We scored first but SIPG were able to come back and that shows they’re a very good team. But hopefully we can do better in the second leg.
“Whether it’s a penalty or not, a goal’s a goal. They’re all goals and the result was 2-2, which seems pretty fair to me so I can’t say that the penalties decided the result.
“This is just a temporary result because we have another match to go and the final result will decide everything.”
Photos: AFC, Shanghai SIPG
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