Tianjin Quanjian make quarter-finals
Guangzhou: Tianjin Quanjian eliminated fellow Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande from the 2018 AFC Champions League on Tuesday, progressing to the quarter-finals on away goals after a breathless 2-2 draw in their Round of 16 second leg tie at Tianhe Stadium.
Guangzhou started the brighter of the two teams, with Alan and Nemanja Gudelj both sending efforts narrowly wide early on before Ricardo Goulart gave the hosts the lead in the 17th minute, with the ball ricocheting home off the Brazilian after Tianjin goalkeeper Zhang Lu could only parry another Alan effort against his shin.
Tianjin didn’t take long to strike back though, with Paulo Sousa’s side level almost immediately as Alexandre Pato beat Zheng Zhi to an Axel Witsel cross from the left of the area to head home from close range in the 19th minute.
With the first leg having ended 0-0 that gave Tianjin the away goal advantage and Guangzhou doubled their attacking efforts as they went in search of the win they now needed, Zhang Lu pulling off a fine double save from Li Xuepeng and Gao Lin in the 40th minute and the latter then failing to connect properly with another wonderful close-range chance in the 44th minute.
Goulart did manage to re-establish Guangzhou’s lead three minutes after half-time, converting a free-header from inside the six-yard box after a Li Xuepeng corner, but the two-time champions once again failed to hold onto their advantage, switching off at the back at a Pato free-kick in the 52nd minute and allowing Wang Jie to make it 2-2 after Wang Yongpo hooked the ball back across goal.
Alan had a glorious opportunity to snatch the win at the death for Fabio Cannavaro’s side, but he sent an 89th-minute header wide at the back post, enabling Tianjin’s maiden AFC Champions League adventure to continue to the quarter-final stage.