Guangzhou Ever­grande re­claim Asian crown

Tuchel slams Dort­mund’s ‘dra­matic’ drop in form

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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