Guangzhou Evergrande edged out of AFC Champions league

Updated: 2012-10-03 12:13


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GUANGZHOU, China - With a late away goal, Saudi giants Al Ittihad narrowly escaped from Guangzhou with 5-4 on aggregate to semifinals in AFC Champions league here on Tuesday night.

"I am happy that we won over the best team in China. In the first half we didn't play well and the second half we also didn't show some beautiful football, but we controlled the ball well and got the winner finally," Ittihad's Spanish coach Raul Caneda said at the press conference after the match.

With 4-2 down on aggregate and sharp striker Muriqui out for injury, chance was seemed to be slim for Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande before the second leg kick off. But Lucas Barrios' strike and Dario Conca's penalty in the first half looked to have been enough for Guangzhou Evergrande to march on in the AFC Champions league, who would be through on away goals.

And they had more than one chance to clinch their result, as Barrios and Conca both missed a third goal by hitting the ball on the cross bar and post.

"We have 9 or 10 chances to score, we hit the bar and the post several times, football sometimes is cruel, even unfair," Guangzhou's coach Marcello Lippi said at the press conference after the match.

The second half saw more opportunities slip though the toes of Guangzhou. Conca missed the open  net in the 60th minute, only to see himself miss another by hitting the post with a long shot.

They were finally pushed by squandering chances. Fahad Al Muwallad's deflected strike on 78 minutes made it 2-1 in the match and 5-4 on aggregate to the two-time champions.

With 15 minutes left, Guangzhou need one goal to retaken their lead on aggregate. But luck was not on their side for the whole match. Gao Lin missed open net, only to see Conca's strike wide. Referee refused to give a penalty at the final minute despite Gao Lin was pulled down by the Ittihad's defender in the box.

"This was Ittihad' s only chance, and they grabbed it, I have more than 80 matches in charge of my team at the champions league in Europe in my career, and I have lucky days and unlucky ones, I have to admit today is not my day," Lippi said.

"I am sure we are the best team in China, but we need to be more patient to reach the top of the Asia and the top of the world. Our players worked hard in the whole year and they get improved quickly. We need to play more collectively and more aggressively if we want to be top of the world," the 64-year old Italian added.