Elkeson, Muriqui fire Guangzhou Evergrande well ahead of Forlan’s Cerezo Osaka in ACL

In the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday, Chinese giants Guangzhou went ahead 5-1 in the Asian Champions League over Diego Forlan-led Japanese side Osaka.
Guangzhou Evergrande player Elkeson, right, heads the ball in an Asian Champions League group match against Yokohama F Marinos of Japan. STR / AFP
Guangzhou Evergrande player Elkeson, right, heads the ball in an Asian Champions League group match against Yokohama F Marinos of Japan. STR / AFP

Title-holders Guangzhou Evergrande destroyed Diego Forlan’s Cerezo Osaka 5-1 in the Asian Champions League last 16 Tuesday as they moved towards their third straight quarter-finals in ominous style.

A quickfire double from Elkeson, a stylish pair of goals from fellow Brazilian Muriqui and a lone effort from Gao Lin meant Marcello Lippi’s team will have an easy task in next week’s home leg.

Guangzhou had not previously won away in this year’s competition and they were in danger of crashing out in the group stages before coming through in their final pool game.

But China’s very first Asian Champions League-winners roared back to title form as they took apart Cerezo, spearheaded by Uruguay star Forlan, in front of their own fans in Osaka.

Guangzhou had the best of the early exchanges and there was an air of inevitability as Italy international Alessandro Diamanti and Muriqui combined for the opener on 22 minutes.

Receiving the ball from Asian player of the year Zheng Zhi, Muriqui played a one-two with Diamanti, whose sliding return pass put last year’s top-scorer through on goal for his first of the tournament.

Cerezo were quick to respond. After breaking on the right, Forlan crossed and Ariajasuru Hasegawa squeezed an accurate first-time shot just inside the far post on the half-hour.

But two Elkeson goals in the space of four minutes turned the tie firmly in Guangzhou’s favour, starting from Yuta Someya’s needless foul on the Brazilian in the penalty area.

From the spot, Elkeson sent goalkeeper Kim Jin-Hyeon the wrong way, and Cerezo also made it easy for Guangzhou on 37 minutes when the striker rose unchallenged to nod home Diamanti’s curling free-kick.

Cerezo failed to hit back after half-time and with 12 minutes left, Chinese forward Gao Lin -- brought on as a substitute for Elkeson -- made it 4-1 when he put a shot between the goalkeeper’s legs.

The quick-thinking Muriqui deepened Cerezo’s plight when, leaping for a high ball, he used his shoulder to bounce it into the net, crashing into the post in the process and leaving the field.

Guangzhou have reached the quarter-finals in both their previous appearances and Cerezo will have to pull off one of the event’s great turnarounds to deny the Chinese league-leaders this year.

Earlier, Pohang Steelers came from behind to grab a precious 2-1 win against fellow former winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the first leg of their all-Korean clash.

The visitors fell behind to Lee Jae-Sung’s header shortly after the break but they were quickly back on terms through Son Jun-Ho, before Go Moo-Yul fired the winner 16 minutes from time.

The victory gives Pohang, the 2009 winners, the advantage ahead of next week’s return against Jeonbuk, who lifted the trophy in 2006 and again reached the final in 2011.

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: May 6, 2014 04:00 AM


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