HONG KONG, (Reuters) - Brazil midfielder Paulinho booked Guangzhou Evergrande’s place in the quarter-final of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday with an away goal during their second leg defeat by Japan’s Kashima Antlers.
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side lost 2-1 after Kashima scored in the dying seconds to win in front of their own fans. But Guangzhou proceed to a fifth quarter-final appearance in six seasons as the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate, with the Chinese Super League side advancing on the away goals rule.
Paulinho scored from close range in the 55th minute to cancel out Pedro Junior’s spectacular first-half opener for Kashima, which saw the Brazilian striker run from the halfway line and fire the ball into the top corner.
Mu Kanazaki’s injury time goal handed Kashima a consolation win, but it was not enough to take the Japanese champions into the last eight for the first time since 2008.
“The game was like the first leg, both sides were very strong and before the game we had foreseen their tactics,” said Scolari, who won the Asian title with Guangzhou in 2015.
“Even though we have reached our target, we haven’t given a perfect performance.”
There was better news for Japan’s other representative in the competition as Kawasaki Frontale confirmed their place in the draw for the quarter-finals, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur on June 6, with a 7-2 aggregate win over Thailand’s Muangthong United.
Toru Oniki’s side won the first leg 3-1 in Thailand last week and goals from Yu Kobayashi, Tatsuya Hasegawa, Eduardo Neto and Rhayner ensured Kawasaki joined Guangzhou, Al Ain and Al Ahli from Saudi Arabia in the next round of the competition.
Editing by Richard Lough