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People's Daily Online>>Sports

Guangzhou Evergrande stuns Kashiwa to top group in AFC Champions League

By Wang Haoming (Xinhua)

10:53, April 18, 2012

GUANGZHOU, April 17 (Xinhua) -- With Conca's penalty and Muriqui's brace, Guangzhou Evergrande clinched a stunning 3-1 victory over Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol to top Group H on Tuesday, maintaining the only hope for Chinese clubs to qualify for the knock-out round in AFC Champions League.

"I'm proud of our players, who devoted themselves to the match. When the game becomes big, it is always a tough situation, but they did it," Guangzhou's South Korean coach Lee Jang Soo said after the match.

Before Tuesday's games, Guangzhou and Kashiwa each gathered four points from three games following a goalless draw in Japan two weeks ago.

At the same time, early leaders Buriram United were two points clear ahead of their trip to South Korea to face a resurgent Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, who were just a point adrift at the foot of the table.

Guangzhou had heard about even more stressful news that Jeonbuk had beaten Buriram, which made both sides six points.

But Guangzhou were able to grasp their fate in their hands. After Muriqui was tackled by Kashiwa defender Watanabe in the 27th minute, Conca scored an easy penalty to gift the home side 1-0 lead.

The second half saw an early equalizer by Hiroki Sakai who stood out in the scramble inside the box in the 50th minute, before Brazilian Muriqui helped Guangzhou retake the lead with a glancing header.

"Muriqui's goal was the key, as we quickly regained our advantage. We relaxed a little and dominated the match," Lee said.

Kashiwa had moments that worried the home side as they frequently crossed the ball into the center.

However, it was time for the Brazilian forward to stand out again. Muriqui scored a perfectly angled shot after another Brazilian Cleo sent a through pass into the box.

"We were only 70 percent of ourselves. We played well in the first half, but the two mistakes we made in the second half spoiled the game, " said Kashiwa coach Nelsinho, who stormed out of the press conference room.

Early this evening, another Chinese team Beijing Guoan suffered a 3-0 loss to Tokyo FC.

Guangzhou coach Lee said his club's win salvaged the name of Chinese soccer.

"When we heard Beijing were two goals down in Tokyo, we understood that we would have to shoulder the responsibility. Just as club owner Xu Jiayin said, we fight not only for ourselves, but also for the name of Chinese clubs."

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