Scolari’s Evergrande squash historic ‘Beef Ball’ bid

Hong Kong (AFP) – Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Guangzhou Evergrande crushed Hong Kong’s Eastern 6-0 on Tuesday as they ruthlessly ousted the debutants and their trailblazing female coach from the AFC Champions League.

Paulinho and Alan both grabbed doubles to bury Eastern, whose coach Chan Yuen-ting, nicknamed ‘Beef Ball’, had become the first woman worldwide to lead a professional men’s team into continental competition.

Chan’s Eastern, whose Champions League introduction was a 7-0 hammering away to Evergrande in February, lie bottom of Group G with one point from five games and no chance of reaching the last 16.

Evergrande, the two-time Asian champions and winners of the last six Chinese Super League titles, stay second but they will have to beat Suwon Samsung Bluewings in their last game to guarantee progression.

Elsewhere, group leaders Suwon fell 1-0 to Kawasaki Frontale as the Japanese side, who play Eastern in their final group game on May 9, kept up the pressure on Scolari’s team.

In a hostile atmosphere at Hong Kong’s Mongkok Stadium, ex-Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho nodded Evergrande in front after eight minutes before Josh Mitchell put Zhang Linpeng’s cross into his own net approaching half-time.

Brazilian forward Alan poached two goals in the second half before Paulinho got his second from close range and Yu Hanchao’s injury time free kick trickled in.

In Group H, South Korea’s Jeju United beat already-qualified Jiangsu Suning 2-1 to move into second place above Adelaide United, who scrambled a 3-3 draw with Gamba Osaka.

Baba Diawara’s flicked header in the 91st minute completed Adelaide’s second fightback of the night after they had recovered from falling 2-0 behind in the first 12 minutes.

It leaves Adelaide two points off the qualification spots heading into the final round of group games, where they are facing a must-win clash against China’s Jiangsu.

Shun Nagasawa’s near-post header from a corner put Gamba ahead after six minutes, before 18-year-old Ritsu Doan spotted Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic off his line to make it 2-0.

Adelaide’s Sergio Cirio scored just before half-time and Jordan O’Doherty produced a spectacular finish to level the scores at 2-2 after the break.

Michael Marrone’s own goal seemed to have sealed Adelaide’s fate, but the game had a final twist when Diawara rose unchallenged to rescue a point for the visitors.

Gamba, who are now eliminated, were left to rue an embarrassing penalty miss by Japan veteran Yasuhito Endo, who ballooned his spot-kick over the bar when the scores were locked at 2-2.

– Hero Nam –

In West Asia, Korea star Nam Tae-hee was on target twice as Qatar champions Lekhwiya secured their last 16 spot with a 3-1 victory over the UAE’s Al Jazira.

Moroccan Mbarak Boussoufa scored from the spot in the 17th minute after Chico Flores fouled Khalfan Mubarak to give Al Jazira the lead in their Group B match in Abu Dhabi.

But Nam, the hero of Lekhwiya’s Qatar Stars League triumph earlier this month, put his side on level terms 10 minutes later with a successful penalty of his own after Almoez Ali was fouled by Mussalem Fayez.

Lekhwiya, who had beaten Al Jazira 3-0 in Doha, continued pressing for the lead and were rewarded in the 62nd minute when Nam pounced on a through ball by Youssef Msakni and netted left-footed.

Msakni put the result beyond doubt in the 77th minute from the centre of the box following an assist from Khalid Muftah.

Also in Group B, a spectacular injury-time overhead kick from Salman Bahrani secured a 1-1 draw for Esteghlal Khouzestan against Saudi Arabia’s Al Fateh.

Al Fateh appeared heading for victory after substitute Ali al-Zaqan had struck in the 85th minute.

The point kept the Iranians in second spot on eight points.

In Group A, Esteghlal of Iran and the UAE’s Al Ahli were involved in a 1-1 draw that moved both sides to the brink of qualification with eight points each.

Lokomotiv of Uzbekistan and Al Tawoon of Saudi Arabia drew 4-4 and are stuck on five points.

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