China's Evergrande keep AFC Champions League title defence alive
Pohang (South Korea) (AFP)
Guangzhou Evergrande kept their stumbling AFC Champions League title defence alive with a deserved 2-0 win over Pohang Steelers on Tuesday -- their first victory of the competition.
Chinese international striker Gao Lin set up the first goal and scored the second as Luiz Felipe Scolari's side finally earned a win at the fifth attempt in Group H.
But the well-heeled Chinese domestic champions are still relying on Sydney FC beating Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds on Wednesday if they are to avoid exiting at the group stage.
The win for Evergrande, the leading lights of cashed-up China's football revolution, was their first in the Asian tournament since they won their second title in three years last November.
Evergrande were on top but wasteful in the early exchanges as ex-Spurs midfielder Paulinho passed up a string of chances, including a scuffed shot from just outside the six-yard box.
The champions' opener came in the 33rd minute, when Gao fired a raking ball to Ricardo Goulart and the Brazilian snapped up the chance from a tight angle at the back post.
Lacklustre Pohang managed little in reply and Gao doubled Evergrande's advantage two minutes after half-time when he arrowed a diagonal shot past home goalkeeper Kim Jin-Young.
Evergrande should have had a third nine minutes later when substitute Li Yuanyi met a cross sweetly on the half-volley, but saw his shot creep just wide.
Elsewhere a double from Brazilian striker Santos kept Suwon Samsung Bluewings's last-16 hopes alive as they beat Gamba Osaka 2-1 away in Group G.
Santos scored twice in eight minutes shortly after half-time before a consolation strike from Yasuyuki Konno in the 89th minute.
With the win, Suwon drew level on points with Melbourne Victory after their 3-1 loss to Sven-Goran Eriksson's Shanghai SIPG, who rubber-stamped their progression as Group G winners.
Goals from Yu Hai and former Guangzhou Evergrande players Elkeson and Dario Conca made it a straightforward night for SIPG, who have enjoyed four wins in five games.
It set up a nail-biting final round of matches as Suwon and Melbourne compete for the second spot in the group and a place in the knock-out stage.
© 2016 AFP