Guangzhou hold edge over FC Seoul in AFC Champions League final
Coach Marcello Lippi still cautious as 'there's still another 90 minutes to play' in second leg
Guangzhou Evergrande will take a narrow away goals advantage into the second leg of the AFC Champions League final in two weeks' time after the Chinese Super League champions were pegged back eight minutes from time by a goal from Dejan Damjanovic that saw FC Seoul secure a 2-2 draw in Saturday night's first leg.
The two teams will meet again at Tianhe Stadium on November 9 with Marcello Lippi's side aiming to become the first Chinese side to be crowned Asian champions since Liaoning in 1990.
Elkeson and Gao Lin scored for Guangzhou after Sergio Escudero had given FC Seoul the lead, but Damjanovic struck in the 82nd minute to ensure the outcome of the continental championship remains in the balance.
"The match was well fought throughout," said Lippi. "The game was quite balanced between both teams. It's been a period when we've had a couple of players out injured and this was their first match for 20 days.
"But FC Seoul are a good team and they attack well and Damjanovic defends the ball well with his body.
"I believe we also caused a lot of problems for their defence, the kind of chances that usually we conclude in a different manner and with a goal, but this was the result and I think it was the correct result for such a game.
"[The two away goals] are a very important factor for us, but there's still another 90 minutes to play. It is an advantage, but we still have to play the second match.
FC Seoul took the lead after just 11 minutes as the Korean champions capped their early domination with a well taken goal from Sergio Escudero, who made the most of Guangzhou's hesitation following a quickly taken free kick to hold off Feng Xiaoteng and slot his shot beyond Zeng Cheng.
But Elkeson claimed his fifth goal in five games in the AFC Champions League just before the half hour mark with a header from Huang Bowen's corner and Gao put Guangzhou ahead with a reflex finish from close range that sent Sun Xiang's low centre into the roof of the net.
With eight minutes remaining, though, FC Seoul levelled the scores via Damjanovic's right foot strike into the bottom corner, which leaves the tie finely poised going into the second leg.
"It was a tough match, as you expect to see in the AFC Champions League final," said FC Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo.
"We couldn't get the result we wanted but the first leg is finished and we are going into a very difficult away match and we hope to play well in the second leg. We have experienced players and I believe we can do it."