Advantage Evergrande: Guangzhou hold Tianjin Quanjian goalless in AFC Champions League R16 first leg
Fabio Cannavaro’s side are slight favourites to advance to the quarter-finals when they host the return match
Guangzhou Evergrande nullified the twin threat of Alexandre Pato and Anthony Modeste to earn a 0-0 draw at Chinese rivals Tianjin Quanjian in the Asian Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.
Fabio Cannavaro’s Guangzhou will return home for the second leg next Tuesday slight favourites to progress following a dreary game lacking poise and invention.
But it might have been even better for the reigning Chinese Super League (CSL) champions and two-time AFC winners had Brazilian winger Alan not blazed the ball over early in the second half when a rare opportunity arose for the visitors.
At the other end, French striker Modeste saw a header saved soon after half-time and wasted the home side’s best opportunity on 72 minutes when he shot wide and high when clear through on goal.
Guangzhou goalkeeper Zeng Cheng then made a double save from former AC Milan starlet Pato and Modeste.
But the duo otherwise showed little, and when they did, Cannavaro’s side successfully snuffed them out -- and not always fairly.
The 30-year-old Modeste, on loan from Cologne in Germany, was booked in the first period for an elbow when going up for a challenge.
And the striker was on the end of some roughhouse treatment too, Guangzhou defender Kim Young-gwon earning a yellow card for clattering into him.
If Cannavaro’s plan on the return to his previous employers was to ruffle Tianjin’s foreign stars, it worked.
Yu Hanchao was the next to go into the referee’s book after he raked his studs down the calf of Tianjin’s Belgian international Axel Witsel.
Six players were booked in all, in a game that did little for the reputation of Chinese or Asian football.
In the other last-16 tie, Thailand’s Buriram United defeated Jeonbuk Motors, of South Korea 3-2, at home in a thrilling first leg.
Buriram’s Brazilian forward Edgar Silva hit a brace.