x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Asian Champions League: Mariners are all at sea as Muriqui nets the winning goal

Brazilian forward Muriqui scores Guangzhou Evergrande winner in 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners, while Kashiwa Reysol beat Jeonbuk Motors 2-0 away.

Guangzhou Evergrande striker Muriqui, left, scores the Chinese club's winenrs against Australia's Central Coast Mariners. William West / AFP
Guangzhou Evergrande striker Muriqui, left, scores the Chinese club's winenrs against Australia's Central Coast Mariners. William West / AFP

Brazilian forward Muriqui scored in the second half yesterday to lead Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande to a 2-1 win over Australian club Central Coast Mariners in the round of 16 of the Asian Champions League.

Mitchell Duke put the hosts ahead in the seventh minute before Paraguay striker Lucas Barrios equalised midway through the first half. The A-League side looked set for at least a draw but Muriqui beat goalkeeper Mat Ryan with 15 minutes left.

Marcello Lippi's side, helped by an investment of more than US$60 million (Dh220.3m), have won the last two Chinese league titles and were narrowly defeated in the 2012 Asian Champions League quarter-finals. Mariners operate under a salary cap of $2.48m.

The return match will be played at Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou on Wednesday.

"There's a huge difference between the budgets and the quality in the front part of the field," said Mariners coach Graham Arnold. "But again I was very proud of the performance and we'll go over there and give it our best shot.

"You could see that they have quality on the ball and a lot of international players, so a lot of experience," the Mariners' soon-to-retire Dutch defender Patrick Zwaanswijk said.

"In transition they are deadly and they showed that, overall they are a great team, but it isn't over yet."

In Jeanju, South Korea, Masato Kudo and Tatsuya Masushima scored to lead Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol to a 2-0 win over Jeonbuk Motors.

Kashiwa, the 2011 Japanese league champions, are the country's only team left in this year's competition.

"We are only halfway there and leading 2-0," Kudo said. "Hopefully we can take advantage of being at home in the next game and finish the job."

The round of 16 is now played over two legs with the group runners-up hosting the first leg.

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE