Marcello Lippi rues Guangzhou Evergrande's misses against Al Ittihad
Late goal by Al-Ittihad condemns Italian's side to Champions League exit at quarter-final stage
Marcello Lippi was left to rue his side's lack of luck and killer instinct in front of goal as Guangzhou Evergrande's AFC Champions League campaign came to a heartbreaking halt at the hands of Saudi Arabia's Al-Ittihad.
Fahad Mosaed Al-Muwallad's 78th minute goal was enough to take the Jeddah-based club into the semi-finals at Guangzhou's expense, even though the Chinese Super League champions emerged 2-1 victors last night.
The 5-4 aggregate defeat was difficult to swallow for Lippi and his team, who saw Lucas Barrios and Dario Conca score in the first half as Guangzhou overturned the two-goal deficit they suffered in the 4-2 loss in the first leg.
But a failure to kill off Ittihad - both Barrios and Conca hit the woodwork and Gao Lin missed several gilt-edged chances - came back to haunt Guangzhou and end their hopes of becoming the first Chinese side to reach the last four since 2005.
"We haven't had that much luck with all the chances that we missed, but I've been in many European Champions League matches, more than 80 games, and you need a bit of luck to go on," said the World Cup-winning Italian. "That's what we didn't have today and that's what you need to go on."
Guangzhou made an impressive start in front of a vociferous and passionate Tianhe Stadium and by the 19th minute Barrios had given his team the lead with a shot on the turn that beat Mabrouk Zaid in the Ittihad goal.
Sixteen minutes later Conca converted from the penalty spot after Gao was brought down by Osama Al-Harbi and Guangzhou looked to be coasting.
A string of missed chances in the second half, though, proved costly and after Muwallad scored to take the Saudis through to their fifth AFC Champions League semi-final, Lippi and his team were left to think of what might have been.
"I spoke to my players when we arrived at the club and I saw that what they had in mind was enough to go forward in the Chinese Super League, but at international level I thought there was a bit more to do," said Lippi.
"I think they have grown a lot and improved a lot and we have tried to work on the philosophy of football for them. We showed today that we have a lot of personality and authority and we will try to go on, but we had some bad luck.
"Now we have two more objectives to go for and that's the Chinese Super League and Chinese FA Cup and we will put in all our efforts to reach those."