Ricardo Goulart double sends Guangzhou Evergrade into AFC Champions League last 16
Brazilian’s goals help the Chinese side to a 2-2 draw against Suwon Bluewings as they secure a play-off place
A Ricardo Goulart double steered two-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande into the AFC Champions League last 16 as they drew 2-2 with Suwon Samsung Bluewings on Tuesday.
After cancelling out Yeom Ki-hun’s opener, Goulart looked offside as he headed Evergrande 2-1 ahead on 68 minutes, before Kim Jong-woo’s equaliser caused some late jitters.
But the single point was enough to take Evergrande, the 2013 and 2015 champions, into the knock-out rounds in second place in group G behind Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale.
Scolari celebrated wildly on the touchline as the Chinese giants erased memories of last year’s embarrassing group-stage exit when they were defending champions.
Japan’s Kawasaki smashed Hong Kong debutants Eastern, led by their trailblazing female coach Chan Yuen-ting, 4-0 to rise from third place to top spot.
Elsewhere Ji Xiang’s 81st-minute winner handed group H table-toppers Jiangsu Suning a 1-0 win over 2008 runners-up Adelaide United.
Ji produced a clinical finish when it mattered – in what was only the Chinese team’s second shot on target – to end Adelaide’s faint hopes of progressing.
South Korea’s Jeju United made sure of second spot when they beat Gamba Osaka 2-0 thanks to goals from Chung Woon and Hwang Il-su.
Chung scored on 29 minutes with a deflected shot before Hwang’s memorable strike on 66 minutes, when he cut inside a defender and curled in his shot from a distance.
In Guangzhou, Yeom raised tensions among home fans when he scored from a cut-back on nine minutes, before Goulart equalised eight minutes later.
Evergrande then grabbed a 2-1 lead when the Brazilian forward headed in Gao Lin’s cross from what replays strongly suggested was offside.
With 10 minutes left, Suwon’s Kim made it 2-2 when he made a Cruyff turn outside the box, created some space and rifled his shot in off the woodwork.
But Evergrande, who have won the last six Chinese Super League titles, held on to maintain their bid for a third Asian trophy in five years.