Doha (AFP) – Beijing Guoan reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League for the first time after Brazilian striker A Lan fired them to a 1-0 win over FC Tokyo on Sunday.
After cruising through the group phase unbeaten, Bruno Genesio’s Beijing Guoan wrote a new chapter in their history, having never previously progressed beyond the last-16 stage in three appearances.
But at the Education City Stadium on Sunday they not only snapped that jinx but also took their unbeaten streak at this year’s event to seven matches.
FC Tokyo, too, had never made it past this stage in two previous appearances but faltered against Chinese opposition yet again – they were beaten to the quarter-final spot by Guangzhou Evergrande in 2012 and Shanghai SIPG in 2016.
On Sunday the game sprang to life in the second half after both teams failed to produce a single shot at goal earlier.
A Lan, previously known as Alan Carvalho, had a great chance to put his side ahead just after resumption but inexplicably went wide from close from a Renato Augusto pass.
But he soon made amends, scoring his fourth goal of the competition from about eight yards after a cutback pass from Augusto who had weaved his way into the box from the right flank.
A Lan was injured and was replaced by Zhang Yuning a few minutes later but Beijing continued to dictate play.
The Japanese tried their best to pressure their opponents but rarely threatened the Beijing defence.
“Today’s game was very tight, the level shown by both teams was similar,” Genesio said at his post-match press conference.
“But I think we deserved the victory because we dominated the game and got a lot of possession.
“We were efficient in both defence and attack, so I congratulate my players.”
Tokyo FC coach Kento Hasegawa praised his players for putting up a fight.
“All the players were incredible, but a goal was a little bit out of reach for us,” he said.
“Beijing created more chances, especially in the second half. Renato was their key player because he was important for their goal.
“Next time we would like to go further.”
Teams from the Asian Football Confederation’s eastern zone are competing in Doha to determine a finalist who will take on Iran’s Persepolis in the title match, also in the Qatari capital, on December 19.
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