AFC Champions League Roundup: Guangzhou, Jiangsu and Shanghai SIPG all into the knockout stages

Guangzhou Evergrande continued their quest for a third Champions League crown in five years. They ensured their progression to the knockout phase with a 2-2 draw against Suwon. The draw saw them finish in second place in the group behind Kawasaki, only on the tiebreaker. Inform man Ricardo Goulart scored both of Guangzhou’s goals. Guangzhou got off to the worst possible start as they fell behind inside 10 minutes. Guangzhou were not losing for long as Goulart equalised at the 17th minute mark. Goulart then put Evergrande ahead midway through the second half. Suwon made inspired changes as substitute Jong Woo-Kim equalized. A win for Suwon would have eliminated Guangzhou, but it was not to be. The result was deserved as both sides played quality football. In the other match of the group, Kawasaki smashed Eastern 4-0 to secure top spot in the group.

Jiangsu Suning went to Australia having already secured both a place in the knockouts and top spot in the group a couple of match weeks prior. Jiangsu rested its star players like Ramires and Alex Teixeira. Jiangsu secured a narrow 1-0 victory despite the weakened line-up. They enjoyed just 28% of possession as Adelaide had to win to have any chance of making it to the knockouts. Jiangsu barely had a decent foothold in the game and were fortunate to win on the night. Lady Luck was also on the Chinese side as twice the woodwork denied Adelaide. Playing up front in the absence of Teixeira, Xiang Ji knocked the ball home to break Aussie hearts. Jiangsu’s keeper Jiang Hao was also superb and the best player on the field. For all the troubles in the League, Jiangsu have had fair sailing in the Champions League so far.

Travelling to bottom place Sydney Wanderers having already secured a place in the knock out stage, Shanghai SIPG took the liberty of resting star names like Oscar and Hulk. But Shanghai got off to the best possible start as Lei Wu opened the scoring without even a minute being played. The goal flipped a switch in Sydney as they starting dominating the middle third. They created half chances and equalized just two minutes later. But the blitz was far from over as three minutes later, Sydney held a surprise lead. The lead lasted just 15 minutes as Elkeson levelled things up. Both sides traded attacks but it took until the 89th minute for the draw to be broken. Sydney’s Jaushua Sotirio won it for the home side.

Guangzhou will face Kashima Antlers in the round of 16 while Jiangsu and Shanghai face each other in what promises to be a mouthwatering clash.