Guangzhou reach AFC Champions League final after thrashing Kashiwa
Marcello Lippi’s team are first Chinese side to play for the continental club championship title after demolition job on Kashiwa Reysol
A fourth four-goal win in a row saw Guangzhou Evergrande create history last night as they became the first Chinese side in the AFC Champions League era to reach the final of the continental club championship.
A 4-0 victory over Kashiwa Reysol secured an 8-1 aggregate victory for Marcello Lippi's team, who become the first Chinese side to reach the final of a continental competition since Dalian Wanda lost in the final of the Asian Club Championship back in 1998.
Since then, Asian club soccer has undergone a radical overhaul, with the Chinese game struggling at times to keep up with teams from Japan, South Korea and the Middle East since the creation of the AFC Champions League in 2002 and the advent of greater professionalism throughout the Asian game.
But that has all changed with the arrival of the money men from Evergrande and with Lippi overseeing a squad that features the bulk of the Chinese national team as well as the stellar South American talents of Dario Conca, Elkeson and Muriqui, a place was booked in this year's final with consummate professionalism.
"It's very positive having the team in the final because it adds to the growth that I've seen in the team that won the championship last year, and now we want to go on and win the title," said Lippi.
"Reaching the final is something that's extremely positive and we will put all our efforts into winning the title for the club and the fans and everyone else here.
"We have tonight put in a very compact performance and that's what you need to get through these matches and this is what helped us tonight. I think a team playing this way completely deserves to reach the final."
Muriqui claimed another two goals to take his tally in the competition to 13 from 12 matches, while Elkeson and Conca were also on target as Reysol were overrun in front of a packed Tianhe Stadium.
Guangzhou have scored four times in each of their last four matches, three in the AFC Champions League and also at the weekend over Hangzhou Greentown in the Chinese Super League as Lippi's team keep their hopes of a domestic and continental treble alive.
Victory over Shandong Luneng at the weekend would complete a third straight Chinese Super League victory, while Guangzhou are also in the semi-finals of the Chinese FA Cup, where they are due to meeting Beijing Guoan.
These are auspicious times for the Guangzhou club, who fell at the quarter-final stage last year, but have since built impressively during the intervening 12 months to transfer their dominance at home into similar displays at Asian level.
Guangzhou Evergrande will meet either FC Seoul or Iranian side Esteghlal. "We don't have any preference who we meet in the final," said Lippi.