Matchday Six - Group G: Guangzhou Evergrande FC beat Cerezo Osaka to advance unbeaten
Guangzhou: A second-half brace from Alan ensured Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande secured their passage to the 2018 AFC Champions League Knockout Stage with a tense 3-1 win over Japan’s Cerezo Osaka on Tuesday.
With the top three teams in Group G – Guangzhou Evergrande, Cerezo Osaka and Buriram United – all still in with a chance of progressing heading into the final matches, the home side knew a win would guarantee their progression and they raced out of the blocks in search for an early goal, with Nemanja Gudelj coming close in just the second minute.
Their high-octane start was rewarded in the sixth minute when Huang Bowen fired in the opener to the delight of the packed stands at the Tianhe Stadium.
Fabio Cannavaro’s side couldn’t hang on to their lead for long, however, and just three minutes later the raucous home crowd was silenced when Takaki Fukumitsu broke the offside trap and rounded Zeng Cheng to make it 1-1.
Undeterred Guangzhou Evergrande continued to attack and almost regained their lead, but were denied by some heroic defending, with Kakeru Funaki blocking Zheng Long’s goal-bound effort after 25 minutes.
With news of a goal early in the second half for Buriram United against Jeju United in the other game filtering through, Cerezo Osaka knew they would have to take all three points to progress if the Thai side kept their lead.
That task was made harder just before the hour mark when Alan scored a typical poachers goal to put the home side ahead, and the Brazilian finished off the match five minutes from time, scoring his second of the night after some lovely build-up play from Yu Hanchao.
The loss, coupled with the win for Buriram United in the other Group G encounter, meant Cerezo Osaka dropped to third in the group, ending their campaign at the group stage.