Guangzhou Evergrande reclaim Asian crown
Tuchel slams Dortmund’s ‘dramatic’ drop in form
GUANGZHOU: A moment of magic from Brazil’s Elkeson earned China’s Guangzhou Evergrande their second AFC Champions League title in three years yesterday after a tense second leg of their final against Al Ahli. The striker’s instinctive turn and toe-poke on 54 minutes finally unlocked the Emirati team’s defense to earn a 1-0 win for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side after the first leg in Dubai ended goalless. The victory was wildly celebrated at a packed Tianhe stadium as the 2013 champions regained the Asian title and earned a spot at next month’s Club World Cup in Japan. It was also a personal victory for Scolari, who led Brazil to a humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany in last year’s World Cup semi-finals but who has kept Evergrande unbeaten since his arrival in June.
Al Ahli proved worthy opponents but their challenge was fatally holed when defender Salmin Khamis saw red for a stamp on 66 minutes, and was so incensed he had to be restrained pitchside. Evergrande nearly got a dream start when Elkeson fed fellow Brazilian Ricardo Goulart in the box, but his close-range shot was well saved at the near post by Ahmed Ashoori. Al Ahli nearly stunned Evergrande on the break but Jose Lima’s shot from the edge of the area, with passes available, was straight down the throat of goalkeeper Zeng Cheng.
Evergrande suffered a blow when Zeng BERLIN: Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel admits his side showed a ‘dramatic’ drop in performance in a shock 3-1 defeat at Hamburg on Friday that dented their Bundesliga title chances. Goals from Pierre-Michel Lasogga, Lewis Holtby and a Mats Hummel own-goal put hosts Hamburg 3-0 up before Gabon striker PierreEmerick Aubameyang netted a late consolation for Dortmund, his 15th goal in 13 league games.
The win saw Hamburg move up to eighth, but defeat leaves second-placed Dortmund facing the prospect of finishing the weekend eight points behind leaders Bayern Munich if they beat Schalke. The start of Friday’s game was delayed for safety reasons, adding to the tension just three days after a bomb scare caused Germany’s friendly with the Netherlands in Hanover to be postponed and a week after the Paris terror attacks. Tuchel slammed his side for a poor first-half display which left them 20 down at the break.
“Especially in the first half, the difference between our usual standards, how we perform as a team, and reality was dramatic,” fumed Tuchel. “We deserved to be punished for it. “I have no explanation for it, but it was obvious from the first minute that we lacked the necessary body language and attitude. “It wasn’t the performance we imagined and we also didn’t see it coming. “It was far too little to achieve a good result in the Bundesliga. “There was no indication beforehand. We were very diligent and worked hard in the international break. “Even during the final training session today (Friday) or during the team meeting, there was no hint of such a performance. “The lesson is simple: with that body language, with that sort of performance and with so little attention being paid, you’re never going to get anything (out of a game).”
Meanwhile, Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia praised his side’s performance. “Beating Dortmund is never easy. Given the quality of their side we weren’t sure of the victory, even at 3-0 up,” he added.
Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki said the performance was his team’s “worst” of the season, surpassing their 51 rout at Bayern’s Allianz Arena at the start of October. Defeat in Hamburg ended their seven-match winning streak and defender Marcel Schmelzer said lessons must be learnt. “We played very badly in the first half and couldn’t implement what we had planned,” said Schmelzer. “We didn’t move enough in front of their goal and we made individual mistakes. “It’s not enough in the Bundesliga if you don’t put in 100 percent and now we need to go away and scrutinize ourselves and calmly analyze what happened.”—AFP injured himself and had to be replaced by Li Shuai after he leapt to punch a cross clear and landed awkwardly on the ankle of team-mate Huang Bowen. Zheng Long went close with a near-post header after a well-worked move from the right, but overall the expensively assembled Chinese domestic champions failed to impose themselves in the first half. However, Evergrande finally broke through after 144 goalless minutes against Al Ahli when Elkeson, receiving the ball with his back to goal, flicked it past a defender and stretched to slot it home.
Al Ahli’s hopes faded further when a furious Khamis earned his straight red card for an apparent stamp on Zheng Long, and had to be restrained by three officials who wrestled him away from the pitch. But Evergrande still needed heroics from South Korean defender Kim Young-Gwon who made a superb last-ditch challenge on Lima when the Brazilian was one-on-one with substitute ‘keeper Li. Man-of-thematch Elkeson nearly made it 2-0 for Evergrande in the fourth minute of injury time but he sliced his shot clear when it looked easier to score. As captain Zheng Zhi lifted the trophy to the strains of “We Are The Champions”, gold tickertape fluttered down and the players sprayed champagne and bounced Scolari up and down in celebration.—AFP
HAMBURG: Hamburg players celebrate after winning the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between Hamburger SV and Borussia Dortmund in Hamburg on Friday, Nov 20, 2015. — AP