Guangzhou break jinx to put campaign back on track

Guangzhou break jinx to put campaign back on track

Kobe midfielder Andres Iniesta is marked by Guangzhou forward Ai Kesen (L) and midfielder Zhang Xiuwei (R) during the AFC Champions League Group G soccer match between Japan's Vissel Kobe and China's Guangzhou Evergrande on November 28, 2020 at al-Janoub Stadium in the Qatari city of Al Wakrah.  (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

Chinese giant Guangzhou Evergrande snapped a seven-game winless streak in the Asian Champions League with a 2-0 win over Japan’s Vissel Kobe on Saturday.


The first-half goals from Brazilians Anderson Talisca and Ai Kesen were enough for Guangzhou to avenge their loss to Vissel Kobe just three days ago and fight for a spot in the round of 16.

Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro had been on the edge of his wits with his team’s inability to open up rival defenses, admitting he had no explanation for what was wrong with them.

But his strong words at press conferences, and probably in the locker room as well, finally seemed to have the desired effect, as the 2013 and 2015 winners broke their old curse to jump to second place in Group G with four points, two. behind. Vissel Kobe.

The Japanese team had already qualified after two victories in as many games after their group was left with just three teams after the withdrawal of Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta’zim.

Guangzhou, which won the Chinese Super League eight times in a 10-year period starting in 2011, was also runner-up when it failed to win the tournament in 2018 and 2020, it also had a poor record against Japanese teams in continental competition.

They had lost four of their last six games against Japanese teams and knew full well that another loss on Saturday would have seriously compromised their chances of reaching the round of 16.

Guangzhou took control of the match early on Saturday and took the lead in the 17th minute with a perfectly executed penalty by Talisca after being fouled by Hirofumi Watanabe.

Talisca went on to miss two chances after that and Zhong Yihao also saw his effort stopped by Vissel Kobe’s goalkeeper Hiroki Iikura.

Iikura, however, was unable to avoid Ai Kesen’s free kick as Guangzhou increased his lead in the 38th minute.

Vissel Kobe managed to put pressure on Guangzhou in the final 15 minutes of the match, but Andrés Iniesta saw his shot saved as Douglas headed the ball over the crossbar.

With eight minutes remaining, Cannavaro’s men nearly extended the lead when Ai Kesen edged two defenders on his way to the left with a low shot that narrowly missed the far post off the field.

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