TOKYO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Holders Kashima Antlers were knocked out of the Asian Champions League after losing on away goals to Chinese Super League leaders Guangzhou Evergrande following a 1-1 home draw in their quarter-final second leg on Wednesday.
Anderson Talisca’s 40th-minute header proved decisive, sending Fabio Cannavaro’s side into the last four after the tie also finished 1-1 on aggregate.
Brazilian striker Serginho equalised for Kashima when he diverted Leo Silva’s shot beyond Zeng Cheng in the Guangzhou goal six minutes into the second half.
The reigning champions, however, were unable to claim the second goal they needed to stay alive in the competition.
“I feel a great responsibility for going out of the tournament and I also feel pain that the result has turned out to be something that has let our supporters down,” Kashima coach Go Oiwa said.
“However, our players’ performances, especially in the second half, and their attitude and the action they took are something that I can give credit to them for.”
Guangzhou, who are seeking a third title to go with those secured in 2013 and 2015, will face Urawa Red Diamonds in the semi-finals next month, with the first leg to be played in Japan on Oct. 2.
“I have more belief after tonight that we can be the champions in the Asian Champions League,” said Cannavaro.
“We are in the semi-finals and let’s see, for sure we are going to try our best.”
In the west Asian half of the draw, Al Hilal from Saudi Arabia set up a semi-final meeting with Qatar’s Al Sadd as the club from Riyadh beat compatriots Al Ittihad 3-1 to progress from their quarter-final.
Last month’s first leg in Jeddah had ended goalless, but it took just 10 minutes for Al Ittihad to take the lead when Ziyad Al Sahafi’s shot found its way into the back of the net.
Andre Carrillo levelled the scores with a little more than a minute left in the first half when his shot was diverted over the line by Al Ittihad goalkeeper Fawaz Al Qarni and Salem Al Dawsari put Al Hilal in front with a header soon after the restart.
Sebastian Giovinco put the result beyond doubt 12 minutes from fulltime when his low strike found its way under Al Qarni’s body as Al Hilal advanced to the last four for the fourth time in six seasons.
“The match was exceptional in the result and the performance that we had,” said Al Hilal’s Romanian coach Razvan Lucescu.
“We created many scoring chances tonight and had a great physical performance.” (Reporting by Michael Church Editing by Toby Davis)