September 12, 2017 / 5:11 PM / 10 months ago

Soccer-SIPG win shootout to secure ACL semi-final spot

HONG KONG, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Shanghai SIPG reached the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League for the first time on Tuesday as they beat fellow Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande 5-4 on penalties after blowing a four-goal first-leg lead.

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 winner for SIPG at the end of a remarkable quarter-final that ended 5-5 on aggregate.

Andre Villas-Boas’s SIPG led 4-0 from the first leg, but Goulart and Alan Carvalho both scored twice for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Guangzhou to take the game into extra time.

Hulk netted a vital goal for SIPG five minutes into the second period of extra-time, but Goulart levelled the aggregate score again with just two minutes remaining when he scored from the penalty spot.

He then missed minutes later with the first attempt in the shootout.

Substitute Yu Hai scored with the final spot kick to send SIPG into the semi-finals, where they will meet Urawa Red Diamonds or Kawasaki Frontale, both from Japan.

SIPG’s expensive imports Oscar and Hulk - signed for a combined total of 115 million euros ($137.55 million) - were relative bystanders for much of the game as Evergrande dominated from start to finish.

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.

A series of missed chances suggested Evergrande would fall short of their target but Goulart scored with a diving header seven minutes from fulltime to reignite his team’s challenge.

The Brazilian was on hand again to take the game into extra time when he redirected Li Xuepeng’s cross beyond Yan Junling as Scolari’s team completed a remarkable comeback.

SIPG’s task was made even more difficult when Wang Jiajie was sent off seven minutes into the first period of extra time after a second booking before Hulk and Goulart traded goals in the final 10 minutes of the additional period.

Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal booked their place in the semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Al Ain in the second leg of their quarter-final in Riyadh on Monday, with all three goals coming from Carlos Eduardo.

The teams, who met in the semi-finals last 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.

“I am so determined to win the Asian Champions League title with Al Hilal because it is the only tournament I have not been able to achieve with my team,” said 27-year-old Brazilian Eduardo.

Al Hilal will play the winner 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. ($1 = 0.8361 euros) (Editing by Toby Davis)

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