Doha:Two goals in two first half minutes effectively sealed Guangzhou Evergrande’s passage to the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League as Marcello Lippi’s side completed a 6-1 aggregate win with a comprehensive 4-1 success over Lekhwiya on Wednesday.
Dario Conca and Elkeson – who both also struck in the first leg in Guangzhou in August – scored in the 14th and 16th minutes to end the game as a contest and ensure Guangzhou become the first Chinese semi-finalists in the AFC Champions League since Shenzhen Jianlibao in 2005.
Muriqui (Luiz Guilherme da Conceição Silva) added a third to claim his tournament-leading ninth goal of the campaign in the 31st minute as Guangzhou showed their class in the opening half before Nam Tae-hee netted a consolation for the home side five minutes into the second period and Elkeson (Elkeson de Oliveira Cardoso) claimed his second – and his side’s fourth – in the 72nd minute.
Guangzhou had few problems against a Lekhwiya side that struggled to match the quality of the Chinese side’s South American front three and Lippi’s team will go into next week’s semi-final in a confident frame of mind after a commanding performance.
A foul on Elkeson close to the touchline on the left side of the Lekhwiya penalty are in the 14th minute put the home team on the defensive and, as Conca sent a low, left-footed effort curling towards goal, the ball was missed by everyone before finding its way into the back of the net.
Two minutes later another free kick effectively ended Lekhwiya’s already slim hopes, this time Elkeson striking after Conca had been upended, the Brazilian striking sweetly a right-footed attempt from 25 yards out that looped over the defensive wall. While goalkeeper Claude Amin managed to put a hand on the ball, it was not enough to stop the shot going in off his right post.
Now needing five goals to progress, the task facing Lekhwiya appeared to be too much, although Eric Gerets’ side almost reduced the deficit within five minutes of Guangzhou’s second.
Karim Boudaif’s right-foot strike came back off the woodwork before the ball eventually fell to Mohamed Musa, but his header also hit the crossbar while Yousef Msakni found the frame of the goal for the third time in a matter of seconds for the unfortunate home side with another header.
Lekhwiya’s task became insurmountable just after the half hour mark when Muriqui showed his class with a fine finish when he raced on to Elkeson’s through ball before smashing a right foot shot across Amin and into the far corner of the goal.
Five minutes into the second half Nam claimed Lekhwiya’s consolation with a deflected right-foot shot but Guangzhou were rarely troubled as they eased into the last four, with Elkeson adding an exclamation point to proceedings when he slotted in substitute Gao Lin’s cross 18 minutes from time.