HONG KONG, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Fabio Cannavaro has told his Guangzhou Evergrande team to bounce back when they take on Japan’s Cerezo Osaka in the Asian Champions League next week after seeing his side held to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday by Thailand’s Buriram United.
Guangzhou, who won the tournament in 2013 and 2015, took the lead in the Group G opener after 16 eventful minutes through Ricardo Goulart, having had two penalty claims turned down and a goal ruled out for offside.
However, a goalkeeping error by Liu Dianzuo allowed Buriram to equalise just before the hour mark when Edgar Silva netted from close range.
“I’m very happy with our first half performance, but very disappointed with the second half,” said Cannavaro, who was leading the team in the first game of his second stint in charge of Guangzhou.
“The away match against Cerezo Osaka (next week) will be very difficult. They are a strong team with discipline and good individuals. We will prepare carefully. I just told my players that today we lost two points and we are going to take them back.”
Cerezo top the group after Kota Mizunuma scored a stoppage time winner against South Korea’s Jeju United. A mistake by Lee Chang-guen in the home side’s goal allowed midfielder Mizunuma to slide the ball home.
Shanghai Shenhua, meanwhile, were pegged back to a 1-1 draw after taking an early lead against Kashima Antlers just three minutes into their Group H encounter in Japan.
Giovanni Moreno claimed the opener before Yasushi Endo scored six minutes into the second half to earn Go Oiwa’s side a share of the points.
Both teams trail Suwon Bluewings from South Korea after a brace from veteran striker Dejan Damjanovic, who joined from FC Seoul in the close season, saw off Australian champions Sydney FC.
Damjanovic gave goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne no chance with a fine strike from 25 yards in the 62nd minute before the 36-year-old put the result beyond doubt from the penalty spot 14 minutes later.
“I’m really feeling good when I’m here in Sydney,” said Damjanovic.
“We opened well, there’s big pressure because there is big expectation on us this season and I have two goals and we’ve opened the season really well.”
Meanwhile, in the west of the continent Persepolis, semi-finalists last year, made an impressive start to their campaign in Group C by beating Nasaf Qarshi from Uzbekistan 3-0.
The Iranian side top the group ahead of Qatar’s Al Sadd, who defeated Al Wasl from the United Arab Emirates.
Last year’s finalists, Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, played out a scoreless draw with 2003 champions Al Ain of the UAE in Group D while Iran’s Esteghlal and Al Rayyan from Qatar shared a 2-2 draw. (Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge)