Scolari’s Guangzhou Evergrande stun Mexico's America to reach Club World Cup semi-finals
Chinese heavyweights rally to beat Mexican side and set up clash with Barcelona
Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande came from behind and scored twice in the last 10 minutes to stun their Concacaf counterparts America and reach the Club World Cup semi-finals on Sunday.
The Chinese side, led by former Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, could even afford to miss an open goal when they were trailing 1-0, on their way to earning a dream tie against European champions Barcelona on Thursday.
The Mexicans appeared to be on course for a comfortable win when Oribe Peralta headed them ahead early in the second half.
But Zheng Long equalised with 10 minutes and former Tottenhan and Brazil midfielder Paulinho headed a dramatic winner in stoppage time.
Scolari, who was in charge of the Brazil team beaten 7-1 by Germany on home soil in last year’s World Cup semi-final, has not lost a match since taking over at Guangzhou in May.
His Chinese side were boosted by four Brazilians, including former Real Madrid and Manchester City forward Robinho, in the line-up.
“Big Phil” was typically excitable on the touchline and got into an argument with America captain Rubens Sambueza over a tough tackle on Robinho.
“Our team did everything to get here, to win and to play Barcelona and now we are going to play them, it’s absolutely spectacular for us,” Scolari said.
Goalkeeper Li Shuai kept America at bay as they poured forward in the first half although Guangzhou mounted some dangerous attacks of their own.
America went ahead after an intense spell of pressure when Mexico forward Peralta met Dario Benedetto’s low cross with a diving header at the near post but they then lowered the tempo.
Guangzhou sounded a warning when a corner was headed across goal and Xiaoting Feng, unmarked at the far post, miscued the ball with the goal at his mercy.
But they equalised after Richard Goulart got away down the left and found Gao Lin with a low cross into the centre. He laid the ball back for Zheng who drilled the ball past Moises Munoz.
Encouraged by that, Guangzhou went in search of the equaliser and it came when America’s defence lost concentration and Paulinho headed in.
“It’s a failure and we are not at all happy; we lost concentration completely for five or 10 minutes, what I have seen is not at all good,” America coach Ignacio Ambriz said.