AVB hit out at AFC for favoring Evergrande in dramatic match
Shanghai SIPG had a hard fought night at Guangzhou’s Tianhe Stadium against Evergrande on Tuesday evening, and advanced to the semifinals of the AFC Champions League through penalty shoot-out.
SIPG head coach Andre Villas-Boas hit out at AFC during the post-match conference, hinting that AFC has been making preferential decisions for Evergrande.
SIPG was carrying a 4-0 first leg lead to Guangzhou, but two-time Asian champion Evergrande almost copied what Barcelona did to PSG in the UEFA Champions League last season. They scored two goals in each half of the second leg home match on Tuesday to make the total score 4-4 in regular time. Each side scored one more goal in extra time before SIPG claimed the victory in the penalty shoot-out.
“We didn’t expect the result to be 4-0, and didn’t expect the match to be dragged for so long,” Andre Villas-Boas said at the post-match press conference. When asked about the team’s performance, the Portuguese gave some surprising comments.
“This is the greatest achievement for SIPG ever, because it looks like a club is dominating the AFC. This club (Evergrande) can do everything.”
AVB complained that the referee picked a side of the pitch for the shoot-out according to the wish of home fans. He also complained about a card decision by the referee in the two side’s first leg clash in Shanghai, which led to the suspension of SIPG defender Fu Huan in Tuesday’s match. SIPG goalie Yan Junling was given a yellow card during Tuesday’s penalty shoot-out and would miss SIPG’s next Asian match.
“Giving a yellow card (to our goalie) in the second penalty, this is such a disgrace,” said AVB, who also unveiled that the team’s bus encountered strange accidents on the way to the stadium.
“We encountered car accidents with the same car twice on the way to the stadium. Also, there was some drama in hotel booking before we arrived. So it’s not easy for SIPG to win the match under such conditions.”
Luiz Felipe Scolari fought back when he heard about AVB’s comments about “unfair treatment.”
“The air conditioner in the away team’s locker room at Shanghai Stadium was broken and it was 42 degrees in there,” said the World Cup winning coach. He also complained about a yellow card SIPG's defender received after committing a foul in Tuesday’s match, which he thought should have been a red card.
Evergrande came into the second leg home match strongly, striking early attempts in the opening 10 minutes. SIPG’s first attempt came in the 11th when Hulk’s shot went over the bar.
The opener came in the 20th minute as SIPG defender Shi Ke missed the ball when making a clearance. Evergrande’s Brazilian striker Alan Carvalho dribbled the ball past SIPG goalie Yan Junling and sent it into the net.
After SIPG striker Lu Wenjun missed a close range shot right in front of the goal, Alan took over the show and doubled the lead for the hosts with a header in the 34th, driving the 39,000 home fans crazy on a humid evening in the capital city of Guangdong Province.
More aggressive attempts had been made by Evergrande in the rest of the first half, and SIPG was lucky to keep the 2-0 score coming into the break.
Villas-Boas made adjustments to the squad at the beginning of the second half, replacing Lu Wenjun and defender Zhang Wei with midfielder Yu Hai and Wei Zhen.
Evergrande’s “half pitch attacking practice” continued in the second half. Villas-Boas used up the substitutions before the 70th, sending one more defender, Wang Jiajie, onto the pitch. SIPG goalie Yan made at least three impressive saves to keep the goal safe till the 82nd when Evergrande’s Ricardo Goulart enlarged the lead to 3-0.
The hosts needed just one more goal to cancel their first-leg deficit, and that was what Goulart did in the last minute, when his goal dragged the match into 30-minute extra time.
SIPG’s second half substitute Wang Jiajie was sent off in the first half of extra time after collecting a second yellow card for a bad tackle.
Hulk’s goal from a direct free kick in the second half of extra time almost gave SIPG the victory. But Evergrande was given a penalty minutes before the final whistle, and Goulart scored from the spot to make the aggregate score 5-5, sending the match into the penalty shoot-out.
Goulart’s first penalty shot hit SIPG’s post. There were no more misses in the rest of the match and SIPG claimed the victory.
“This is a very high-class match,” Scolari said after the match. “We created four to five killing chances in the first half while SIPG had maybe one. It was a similar situation in the second half. It’s a pity we lost in the penalty shoot-out. Our competition with SIPG is still intense in the Chinese Super League and the CFA Cup.”
“I’m sad and happy at the same time. I’m sad about the result, but happy because our team could still come back under such circumstances. This is a match that cannot not be copied,” he added.
Scolari said the team would now concentrate on the CSL and the CFA Cup. His contract with Evergrande ends at the end of this season, and an extension is yet to be considered, said the Brazilian.