Guangzhou: Guangzhou Evergrande nearly pulled off the great escape against Shanghai SIPG, overcoming a 0-4 first leg deficit before succumbing to their Chinese Super League rivals in a dramatic penalty shootout at the Tianhe Stadium on Tuesday night.
Staring at a four-goal deficit from the first leg Guangzhou Evergrande would’ve been forgiven for thinking the tie was already over, but their Brazilian strike duo of Alan and Ricardo Goulart set about hauling in the four goal margin.
The duo was dynamic all night, and could’ve scored more than the five goals they shared on the evening. As is evidenced by the graphic below, showing their goals and shots on goal, Alan and Goulart were involved in everything for Guangzhou.
Between the two they combined for a total of 19 shots on goal, eight of which were on target and five of which found the back of the net, while Alan also provided an assist for one of Goulart’s three goals.
Winding Back The Clock
Guangzhou Evergrande captain Zheng Zhi might have just turned 37, but he turned in one of his best performances for the two-time AFC Champions League winners last night.
Zheng Zhi bossed the midfield all night, tracking back and cutting out Shanghai SIPG’s counter attacks and getting forward at every opportunity as Guangzhou went in the search for goals. As you can see from his heat map below, he controlled the middle of the park all night.
Highlighting the sheer amount of work he completed on the night, Zheng had 93 touches of the ball and 77 passes, more than any other player on the park, as you can see below. Impressively he also amassed an accuracy of 77%.
Leading From The Back
While Shanghai SIPG’s defence was a mess, better resembling Swiss cheese, the same couldn’t be said of Guangzhou Evergrande.
Containing an attack containing Hulk, Oscar and Wu Lei isn’t easy, as Guangzhou discovered in the first leg, but on this occasion their defence was significantly more solid, especially their central defensive pairing of Kim Young-gwon and Feng Xiaoting.
As you can see from the graphic above, which highlights the key defensive efforts for the duo, both Kim and Feng were instrumental in keeping the Shanghai attack at bay, frequently breaking up their attacks.
But it was also their work with that ball that impressed. Between the two they combined for a total of 135 passes, with Feng passing at 81% accuracy, while Kim went even better at 87%.
By breaking up the play and then acting as the first point of the attack, they were able to keep Guangzhou Evergrande in complete control of the match.
Photos: Lagardère Sports