AFC Champions League: Group H Matchday Four Round-up and Result

Kashiwa Reysol defender Hirofumi Watanabe brings down Guangzhou Evergrande centre forward Muriqui outside the 18-yard box. Referee Abdulrahman Abdou incorrectly pointed to the spot, and Dario Conca converted the resulting spot kick to give Evergrande a 1-0 lead in the AFC Champions League Group H fixture on 17 April. The Chinese Super League champions would win the match 3-1.

Kashiwa Reysol must now rely on results elsewhere in Group H if they are to stand any chance of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the 2012 AFC Champions League, after they collapsed to a 3-1 loss to Guangzhou Evergrande at the Tianhe Stadium. Starting the day in second place on goal difference from the reigning Chinese Super League champions, Reysol fell behind on 28 minutes to a Dario Conca penalty, but the Sun Kings justifiably had some complaint over Abdulrahman Abdou’s decision to point to the spot. Defender Hirofumi Watanabe, who misjudged the pace of a long ball out of the Evergrande defence, became locked in a sprint with opposition forward Muriqui, but while the Guangzhou player was certainly upended, the infringement clearly took place a yard outside the penalty box (See photo above). Conca subsequently converted the spot kick, blasting into the bottom right with Sun Kings goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno.

Right-back Hiroki Sakai gave Reysol some hope five minutes into the second half when he capitalised on the failure of the Evergrande defence to clear a Leandro Domingues free kick. The Brazilian whipped a cross in from the right of the penalty area, and two attempted Guangzhou headers only resulting in the ball dropping outside the six-yard box, and the 23 year-old reacted sharply to drive home from short range.

However, Reysol hopes were short-lived as the Southern China Tigers were back in front only seven minutes later. With only Sakai covering, defender Sun Xiang played a pass to Gao Lin, and the left-back continued his run to the left of the Reysol penalty area, Xiang returning the ball into his path. A first time cross was pulled back to the penalty spot, and Muriqui headed down and over Sugeno.

Miriqui made sure of the victory with six minutes of normal time remaining and Reysol chasing an equaliser, and manager Nelsinho should be concerned about the ease with which four of his players failed to prevent a goal being scored when created by just two attacking players. Receiving the ball ten yards inside the Reysol half, Muriqui turned and drilled a pass sideways to teammate Cléo. Cléo’s return pass split Hidekazu Otani and Watanabe, and Sakai did not do enough to prevent Muriqui firing a powerful shot from 16 yards across Sugeno into the bottom left corner.

The result leaves the Sun Kings at the bottom of Group H with two group matches remaining, two points behind second place. Reysol will be eliminated from the competition if they are defeated by Buriram United at the Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium on 1 May.

Group H

Guangzhou Evergrande
Conca 28′ (pen.)
Muriqui 57′, 84′
3 Kashiwa Reysol
Sakai 50′

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