Guangzhou Evergrande came from a goal down to earn a 2-1 victory over Gamba Osaka and take a slender advantage in the first leg of Asian Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
The Japanese side took a 1-0 lead following an own goal by Evergrande defender Feng Xiaoting in the 12th minute at Tianhe Sport Center Stadium before Huang Bowen equalised for the hosts 10 minutes before halftime with a superb left-footed volley.
Zheng Zhi’s towering header after meeting a superb cross from Elkeson in the 57th minute of the game ensured the Chinese Super League giants to secure the crucial home victory ahead of the return leg which will be played on October 21 in Osaka.
“We played really well today, as anyone can see, and I truly appreciated the way my players performed on the field,” said Evergrande coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was happy with his team display.
“It was a very difficult game and Gamba Osaka is by far the best team I have witnessed in the Asian Champions League so far. So, I can say that we had two teams of equal strength tonight.
“I had no expectations of any scoreline, to be honest, so I am not surprised by the result. Any kind of scoreline is within my expectation when you see a game between two teams of such equal ability.”
Meanwhile, Gamba asistant coach Tomohiro Katanosaka, who replaced Kenta Hasegawa’s role as head tactician due to suspension, expressed his disappointment with the result despite having a crucial away goal.
“The result is upsetting,” he insisted. “Before the match the head coach asked me to ensure a success and victory in the game, but the result is disappointing.
“An away goal is valuable as to score an away goal against Guangzhou is not easy to do so. We scored first which is a positive, and while the result is not bad, it is not as good as we had expected.”