Draw with Seoul gives Evergrande AFC title

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Draw with Seoul gives Evergrande AFC title

FC Seoul failed to claim its first Asia Champions League title by drawing, 1-1, with China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in the second leg on Saturday held in China. The “Man-City of Asia” claimed its first AFC title on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate tie and became the first Chinese winners of the AFC Champions League.

The Chinese dominated but struggled to convert pressure into goals until Brazilian forward Elkeson broke the deadlock in the 58th minute, sending the majority of capacity crowd at Tianhe Stadium into a frenzy.

FC Seoul leveled four minutes later with their first chance of the game, Dejan Damjanovic firing home to make it a nervy finale, but Guangzhou survived to take the title.

“We played our best, but the result wasn’t good,” said coach Choi Yong-soo of FC Seoul.

Guangzhou’s victory means they will be Asia’s representative at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco next month, while Italian World Cup winner Marcello Lippi became the first coach to win both the European and Asian Champions League titles.

The Italian, who won in Europe with Juventus FC in 1996, was tossed in the air by his players after they collected their winners’ medals.

His expensively-assembled Chinese side was a strong favorite after drawing, 2-2, in the first leg in Seoul last month and their milestone success was celebrated throughout the country despite their failure to hit the heights set in previous rounds.

Lippi sprung a surprise with his lineup by selecting midfielder Zhao Xuri ahead of forward Gao Lin, but his side could have done with the extra attacker as they dominated the opening half against Seoul.

Argentine playmaker Dario Conca hit the post with two early efforts and Elkeson also went close with a long drive as the South Korean champions were lucky to stay level, 0-0, at halftime.

The contest burst into life near the hour mark when Elkeson opened the scoring, producing an exquisite first touch to take a pass which fell behind him into his stride and calmly slotted it home. Damjanovic quickly levelled with a sharp strike as Guangzhou failed to clear, but the Koreans did not test Zeng Cheng in the home goal again.

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