Alexandre Pato inspires Tianjin Quanjian into Asian Champions League quarters

Alexandre Pato helped fire Tianjin Quanjian into the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League. (AFP)
Updated 15 May 2018
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Alexandre Pato inspires Tianjin Quanjian into Asian Champions League quarters

  • Former AC Milan forward scores one and makes another to beat Guangzhou Evergrande
  • Defeat ramps up pressure on Fabio Cannavaro

SHANGHAI: Alexandre Pato scored one and was instrumental in the other as Tianjin Quanjian beat two-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande on away goals to reach the Asian Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.
The Brazilian former AC Milan starlet, who has rejuvenated his injury-disrupted career in China, inspired Tianjin to twice swiftly peg back Guangzhou in a 2-2 draw and squeeze through after the first leg ended goalless.
In the earlier game, a volley from Ricardo Lopes helped Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea into the last eight as they saw off Thailand’s Buriram United.
Defeat in the all-Chinese last-16 tie increases the scrutiny of Fabio Cannavaro, the Italian World Cup winner who took over from Luiz Felipe Scolari at Guangzhou in the close season after steering Tianjin into the Champions League for the first time before quitting.
Guangzhou have dominated Chinese football for nearly a decade, winning seven Chinese Super League (CSL) titles on the spin, but they have now failed to win in their last five matches in all competitions under Cannavaro, exiting the Chinese FA Cup and now Asian competition.
Guangzhou, who lifted the Champions League trophy in 2013 and 2015, have vowed to build an all-Chinese team by 2020, but it was their Brazilian star who put them ahead in the 17th minute.
Winger Alan saw his shot parried by visiting goalkeeper Zhang Lu into the path of striker Ricardo Goulart, who scrambled in.
The home side’s lead lasted just two minutes, however, as Belgian international Axel Witsel stabbed over a floated cross for the 28-year-old Pato to head down and in for Tianjin.
Goulart nabbed his second goal with a free header on 48 minutes, but again the visitors hauled themselves level almost immediately, defender Wang Jie prodding in from close range four minutes later following a Pato set-piece.
In South Korea, Lopes’ clean strike on 18 minutes and Lee Jae-Sung’s 84th-minute free-kick made it 2-0 on the night to Jeonbuk and 4-3 on aggregate as the former champions went through against Buriram.
Jeonbuk won the Asian club championship in 2016 but the South Korean side were banned from last year’s competition over a bribery scandal.
A cushion header from World Cup-bound South Korea striker Kim Shin-wook teed up the Brazilian forward, who volleyed into the top corner to make it 3-3 on aggregate and put Jeonbuk ahead on away goals.
Lee, another Jeonbuk player named in South Korea’s preliminary World Cup squad, sealed the win when he curled home his free-kick left-footed with six minutes to go.


Sarfraz Ahmed happy after Pakistan fight back against Australia in Abu Dhabi

Updated 16 October 2018
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Sarfraz Ahmed happy after Pakistan fight back against Australia in Abu Dhabi

  • Pakistan captain scores 96 after criticism having made just 74 runs in previous six Test innings.
  • Australia closed the day at 20 for two, trailing by 262 runs.

ABU DHABI: Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said he was happy that he responded to pressure from all sides with a brilliant 96 on Tuesday on the first day of the second Test against Australia.
The 31-year-old added 147 runs for the sixth wicket with opener Fakhar Zaman — who also scored 96 — to lift Pakistan from a precarious 57 for five to 282 all out at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Australia closed the day at 20 for two, trailing by 262 runs with eight wickets in hand.
After his below-par 15-run innings and weak wicketkeeping in the first Test which ended with his team unable to turn a strong position into a victory, Sarfraz faced calls for his sacking as Test captain.
“Yeah the pressure was there, definitely,” said Sarfraz, who had made just 74 runs in the his six previous Test innings.
“A lot of it. You know it’s coming from all corners. Somebody is saying leave Test cricket, somebody is saying leave captaincy, some are saying leave him out of the team.
“When all this happens and you score runs then it’s a bit of relief and then to do it in a situation where you were 57 for five and in a really bad shape...”
Sarfraz said Pakistan had fought back admirably having seen Australia spinner spinner Nathan Lyon had rocked Pakistan in the morning, reaching lunch with figures of four for 12.
“It’s good that we scored 282 and then got two wickets, including that of Usman Khawaja because he can play a long innings, so I think it has become even for both the teams now,” said Sarfraz.
Sarfraz praised Zaman, who is playing his first Test.
“Fakhar played a brilliant knock and I got very good confidence from him because I like that the other batsmen rotate the strike and he did that and played brilliantly in his first match.
“He deserved credit for doing so well.”
The first Test in the two-match series ended in a draw in Dubai last week.