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Rampaging Hulk has Shanghai SIPG sensing Asian glory

Shanghai (AFP) – Brazilian international Hulk scored one and made another as Shanghai SIPG all but sealed their spot in the AFC Champions League semi-finals with a 4-0 first-leg rout of Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday.

Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Evergrande are on course to retain the Chinese Super League (CSL) title but barring a miracle they are already out of this quarter-final all-Chinese tie even with the home leg to come.

Shorn of key midfielder Paulinho, the Brazilian who last week moved to Barcelona, Scolari’s men only woke up very briefly after the break but by then they were 2-0 down and their dreams of a domestic and continental double dead.

Two second-half goals in as many minutes by Chinese international Wu Lei, one fed by Hulk, put the tie out of sight. 

In the formidable form of Hulk, SIPG had a forward who was a muscular and pacy menace throughout.

Twice early on he shot weakly at Evergrande goalkeeper Zeng Cheng and midway through the first half, with SIPG on top, he was snuffed out by the overworked Zeng.

Next Hulk fed the 60-million-euro man Oscar, his fellow Brazilian who had a quiet game, but he too shot straight at Zeng.

Then Oscar saw a right-footed curler from distance whistle past Zeng’s far post.

Scolari, yet another Brazilian, spread his arms out in despair on the sidelines and gestured to his defence to engage their brains.

But they didn’t and after attacking midfielder Wu went over under minimal contact in the box, Hulk stepped up to ram home the penalty on 38 minutes.

It was his seventh goal in the Champions League this season.

On the brink of half time Andre Villas-Boas’s side made it 2-0, skipper Wang Shenchao popping up at the backpost to bundle the ball in.

No doubt Scolari gave his men a half-time grilling and Evergrande, two-time Champions League winners, started the better in the second period.

But Wu punished them with just over an hour on the clock with a classy solo effort and on 64 minutes he scored again after being played in by the rampaging Hulk for 4-0 and game over.

The second leg takes place on September 12.

In the first AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg, on Monday, Al Ain of the UAE were held 0-0 at home by Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal. 

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