Shanghai SIPG advances into AFC semis on dramatic night

Guangzhou Evergrande’s Li Xuepeng, left, competes for the ball with Shanghai SIPG’s Hulk during their AFC Champions League quarterfinal football match in Guangzhou in China’s southern Guangdong province on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 13 September 2017
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Shanghai SIPG advances into AFC semis on dramatic night

GUANGZHOU: Shanghai SIPG survived an almighty scare to sneak into the semifinals of the AFC Champions League 5-4 on penalties and break Guangzhou Evergrande hearts on Tuesday.
Midfielder Yu Hai was the hero for Andre Villas-Boas’ battered side, holding his nerve to bury the decisive spot-kick and SIPG will face either of the Japanese teams Kawasaki Frontale or Urawa Reds in the last four.
It was a thrilling game of high drama between the top two teams in the Chinese Super League (CSL).
Hosts Evergrande won 5-1 on the night in extra time, the quarterfinal tie ending 5-5 on aggregate.
The Brazilian Ricardo Goulart scored a hat-trick for Evergrande, forcing extra time with his second and then rescuing the game at 5-5 on 118 minutes.
But it was he who missed Evergrande’s penalty in the shootout, leaving him in tears afterwards as the SIPG players and staff celebrated on the pitch.
The battered visitors SIPG played most of extra time with 10 men after Wang Jiajie was booked for a second time.
The Brazilian bruiser Hulk stepped up on 110 minutes to slam the ball into the net with a blockbuster of a free kick and make it a scarcely believable 5-4 on aggregate.
But just when SIPG thought they were going through, the Brazilian Muriqui was felled in the box and Goulart buried the penalty with two minutes left on the clock for 5-5 on aggregate, his hat-trick and penalties.
The 28-year-old winger Alan was chief tormentor in the first half, punishing some slapstick SIPG defending to give Evergrande a glimmer of hope on 21 minutes when he rounded Yan Junling.
It was just a taste of the drama to come.
On 35 minutes the Brazilian was at it again, darting in to head home and make it 2-0 on the night, 4-2 to SIPG on aggregate.
It was game on and Evergrande, odds-on to retain their CSL title with SIPG a distant second, and their manager Luiz Felipe Scolari went into the break smelling blood.
Villas-Boas had seen enough and made two changes at halftime. The Portuguese, who like Scolari is a former Chelsea manager, raged on the sidelines as Evergrande pushed for a third.
Goulart stooped to make it 4-3 on aggregate with seven minutes left and then headed home again in the first minute of injury time to drag the game into extra time.


LIVE: Mohamed Salah in the side as Egypt face Russia

Updated 24 sec ago
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LIVE: Mohamed Salah in the side as Egypt face Russia

9.12PM: Mohamed Salah still yet to come into the game, but Egypt looking much brighter than in the first minutes...

9.05PM: Russia commanding the early stages and looking likely to score...our man Salah yet to make a considerable impact...

8.55PM: The anthems have been sung - a rousing rendition from the Russians - and we're ready to get this game under way...

8.50PM: And here he is — Salah is out warming up and looking ok, well at least from out vantage he is...

 

8.40PM: At the risk of stating the obvious, all eyes will be on Salah tonight. In Saint Petersburg, the city of Russian royalty, can he live up to the mantle of Egyptian King? There's little doubting Cuper's side need him to be at or near his best, can his shoulder take the strain, both literally and metaphorically? 

For Russia the lineup is as expected, Cheryshev starts having come of the bench against Saudi Arabia and scored a brilliant brace. 

 

8.30PM: Both lineups are out here they are...

RUSSIA Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov,  Zobnin, Gazinsky, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev, Dzyuba. Subs:  Lunev, Semenov, Kuzyaev, Dzagoev, Smolov, Kudryashov, Granat,  Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Smolnikov, Gabulov.

EGYPT El Shenawy, Fathi, Gabr, Hegazi, Abdel-Shafy, Hamed,  Elneny, Salah, Said, Trezeguet, Mohsen. Subs: El Hadary,  Elmohamady, Gaber, Morsy, Kahraba, Ashraf, Sobhi, Hamdy,  Shikabala, Samir, Warda, Ekramy. 

 

8.20PM: There is little doubt the return of Salah will give the Pharaohs a big boost, just a quick glance at his stats during his record-breaking season at Liverpool will tell you why.. 

 

 

8PM — BIG NEWS: Egypt go into the crunch clash against Russia knowing defeat will all but end their hopes of making it to the second round, but also buoyed by the return of their talisman, Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian ace has been named, as expected, in Hector Cuper’s starting XI to face the hosts in Saint Petersburg having missed the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday.
It may be expecting too much to expect the 26-year-old to provide the spark so missing from Egypt’s loss to the South Americans — there is still some confusion over just how well his shoulder has recovered since injuring it in the Champions League final — but there is little doubt that for all the side’s calm and poise in possession they lacked a cutting edge and Cuper is doubtless hoping Salah can provide it this evening.
The hosts come into the match relaxed and, thanks to the Salah show, not the center of attention. Their 5-0 opening-day win over Saudi Arabia has both removed doubts about the side’s ability and set them up well for a stab at making the knockout stages.
Can Salah upset their home party? The next few hours will tell.