03/05/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/05/2019 13:27
Guangzhou: Guangzhou Evergrande struck two early goals to earn a 2-0 victory over Group F rivals Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Matchday One of the 2019 AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
Sanfrecce had an early chance when Hiroya Matsumoto's ball over the top released Douglas Vieira. The striker had a clear run on goal but took the ball too far wide and his effort from a tight angle was saved by Zeng Cheng.
Guangzhou responded by starting to dominate possession and it was no surprise when they took the lead after a fine team move in the 19th minute. Li Xuepeng's deft pass released Yu Hanchao down the left and the winger's cross was headed in by Anderson Talisca.
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It took just seven more minutes for the hosts to make it 2-0. Huang Bowen's corner from the left was flicked on by Yu Hanchao and Paulinho directed the ball in with his chest from a yard out at the far post.
Holding a comfortable lead with less than a third of the game gone, the intensity of the hosts' play dropped but they were never threatened as they reached half-time two goals ahead.
Five minutes into the second half, Sanfrecce had the chance to pull a goal back. A low cross from the left found Gakuto Notsuda on the edge of the box but the midfielder failed to get a clean connection on his shot.
Minutes later, Notsuda's looping header from Tsukasa Morishima's cross was held by Zeng Cheng
The home side tried to work their way back into the game and Talisca almost scored with a spectacular effort but volleyed just high and wide in the 65th minute.
But Sanfrecce hit back and Zeng Cheng was forced to make another save when Kohei Shimzu fired in a powerful low shot from the left with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The visitors missed another decent opportunity in the 83rd minute as Hayato Araki's header went straight into the arms of the Guangzhou keeper, while minutes later Kyohei Yoshino's scuffed shot also found Zeng Cheng in the way.
Despite a lacklustre second-half performance, Guangzhou took the three points and next up for them is a trip to Korea Republic to face Daegu on March 12. Sanfrecce welcome Melbourne Victory to Japan on the same day.
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