June 18, 2019 / 4:08 PM / 6 months ago

Soccer-Kashima and Guangzhou earn slender first-leg leads

GUANGZHOU, June 18 (Reuters) - Champions Kashima Antlers and two-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande will take slim leads into the second leg of their Asian Champions League last-16 clashes with Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Shandong Luneng respectively after wins on Tuesday evening.

Kashima had a solitary first-half goal from Brazilian forward Serginho to thank for their win over fellow J-League side Hiroshima, who played out the final four minutes with 10 men after Sho Inagaki was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Guangzhou, meanwhile, edged an all-Chinese Super League affair at Tianhe Stadium when Yang Liyu’s low cross was deflected past Wang Dalei to give Fabio Cannavaro’s side a 2-1 win over Shandong.

Wei Shihao had put the 2013 and 2015 champions ahead 10 minutes before the break, only for Zheng Chi to level the scores in the 66th minute with a fierce strike to beat goalkeeper Liu Dianzuo.

The game looked destined to end in a draw before Yang’s attempted centre took just enough of a deflection off Zheng Zheng to deceive Wang and cross the line.

“Tonight’s game was very tough because of the tactics of our opponents, but considering the number of players we had missing tonight it was never going to be easy to win,” said Cannavaro, who was without influential Brazilian Anderson Talisca and China international Gao Lin.

“In the first half we had some advantages but the second half was tough for us.

“The game ended 2-1 so that doesn’t put us in a very secure position, but we will try our best and show our passion in the second leg.”

Guangzhou will travel to Jinan to take on Shandong next week needing only a draw to advance to the quarter-finals having missed out on the last eight of the competition in 2018, when they were eliminated by fellow Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian.

A draw will also be enough for Kashima in Hiroshima to progress as they continue in their quest to become the first team since Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad in 2005 to successfully defend the title they won last year, when they defeated Iranian side Persepolis in the final. (Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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