At the end of an extraordinary game in Guangzhou, Shanghai SIPG had to rely on the lottery of the penalty shootouts to reach the final four of the AFC Champions League despite winning the first leg 4-0!
Guangzhou’s Ricardo Goulart, who scored a hat-trick over the preceding 120 minutes, missed the opening spot kick to leave Yu Hai to score the victor for SIPG at the end of a remarkable quarterfinal that ended 5-5 on aggregate.
Villas-Boas even went as far as to say Guangzhou, who forced extra-time thanks to two goals each from Alan and Ricardo Goulart, had engineered multiple auto accidents in front of the SIPG team bus as it made its way to the stadium.
“This is the greatest achievement for SIPG ever because it looks like one club is dominating the AFC because this club can do everything”.
Alan claimed Guangzhou’s first in the 21st minute when he rounded the goalkeeper before rolling the ball home and he struck again 14 minutes later to give Evergrande’s hopes a boost.
After a tense and action-packed second leg, which nine-man SIPG won on penalties after Guangzhou had overturned a 4-0 first leg deficit to take the game into extra-time, Villas-Boas rolled off a lengthy list of grievances.
Post the break, it seemed as if Shanghai would hold on to their lead until the final seven minutes when Ricardo Goulart spurred Guangzhou to level the game.
During the extra-time, Shanghai’s defender Wang Jiajie was sent off, but Hulk curled home a stunning free-kick to take the lead for the visitors again in the 108th minute.
The Brazilian said: “Our skipper (Zheng Zhi) was shown a red card in the World Cup qualifier but the same scenario happened today involving a SIPG player but he only got a yellow card”.
Al Hilal will play the victor of the meeting between Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia and Iran’s Persepolis, with the teams having shared a 2-2 draw in the first leg. At Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Persepolis beat Al Ahli 3-1 (5-3 on aggregate). However, their joy was shortlived as Kamal Kamyabinia received a straight red card for a challenge on Waleed Bakshwan in the 12th minute. At this point, Al Ahli were going through on away goals but Persepolis mounted a spirited attempt to score another.
The teams, who met in the semi-finals past year when Al Ain emerged victorious, played out a scoreless draw in the United Arab Emirates last month, but Eduardo kept Al Hilal on track to claim their first continental title since winning the Asian Club Championship crown in 2000. Star striker Mehdi Taremi converted it promptly to lend some gloss to the scoreline.