Own goal relief for Guangzhou in AFC last 16

Wei Shihao of Guangzhou Evergrande celebrates after scoring against Shandong Luneng during their AFC Champions League round of 16 football match in Guangzhou, in China's southern Guangdong province on June 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 June 2019

Own goal relief for Guangzhou in AFC last 16

KASHIMA: A bizarre own goal 10 minutes from time gave two-time champions Guangzhou Evergrande a 2-1 win over Shandong Luneng, while title holders Kashima Antlers edged Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 as the AFC Champions League last 16 kicked off on Tuesday.

Shandong looked like they had snatched a draw against Fabio Cannavaro's injury-depleted side when Zhang Chi lashed home a second-half equalizer, set up by the former Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini.

Evergrande, with first-choice strikers Talisca of Brazil and Gao Lin missing, had started with an inexperienced frontline of Wei Shihao and Yang Liyu up front.

The 24-year-old former Shandong academy player Wei blew a golden chance to score against his old club when he blazed over when put clean through by veteran skipper Zheng Zhi after 20 minutes. 

But he made amends 15 minutes later, when former Barcelona and Spurs midfielder Paulinho broke powerfully down the right and cut back from the byline.

Goalkeeper Wang Dalei failed to deal with the cross and Wei gleefully poked home from seven yards to give the home side the lead, before leaping into manager Cannavaro's arms in celebration.

After Zhang's equalizer gave Shandong a crucial away goal, the match seemed to be heading for a draw until the 80th minute.

Yang Liyu's speculative cross from the right touchline took the slightest of deflections from defender Zheng Zheng's outstretched foot.

But that proved enough to beat Wang, who had inexplicably vacated his near post and could only watch helplessly as the ball squirmed across the line for the winner.

In the first all-Japanese last 16 clash since 2011, Sanfrecce Hiroshima finished with 10 men after Sho Inagaki received a second yellow card in the 86th minute at Kashima. The visitors conceded the only goal in the 24th minute when a long clearance fell to the Kashima's Shoma Doi.

The attacking midfielder drove down the left and into the Hiroshima box where his cross looped up off Yuki Nogami's attempted block for Brazilian striker Serginho to head in from close range for his third goal of this year's competition.

Douglas Vieira enjoyed the best chance for the visitors, but turned and blasted wastefully over the bar when finding himself unmarked on the penalty spot from a 38th-minute corner.

The in-form Sanfrecce arrived in Ibaraki Prefecture on the back of five consecutive AFC Champions League victories, but they rarely threatened Kashima's Korean goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae in a lacklustre match. The second legs to decide the first two quarterfinalists will take place in Shandong and Hiroshima next Tuesday.

Top Saudi duo leads staggering entry for Rally Qassim 2019

Updated 15 October 2019

Top Saudi duo leads staggering entry for Rally Qassim 2019

  • Several drivers are keen to test their skills ahead of Dakar Rally next year

BURAIDAH: A staggering entry of 63 cars, 1 truck, 18 motorcycles and 8 quads will tackle this weekend’s Rally Qassim 2019, the second round of the exciting new Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship.

There is strength in depth throughout the entire car field and the three T1, T2 and T3 categories, with Saudi Arabia’s leading cross-country star Yazeed Al-Rajhi topping the entry after finishing fifth overall at last week’s Rally of Morocco.

Fellow Saudi Yasir Seaidan wheels out his MINI All4 Racing, as the two leading Saudi stars go head-to-head across home terrain. Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi is also on hand to challenge for overall honors in a Peugeot 3008 DXR.

There is a strong Saudi influence in the upper reaches of the top 10 with the likes of Essa Al-Dossari, Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Mutair Al-Shammeri, but there is an international flavor to the entry as well, with several drivers keen to test before the Dakar Rally crosses the country for the first time in January 2020.

Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal wheels out his Ford F-150 Evo, Egyptian Yara Shalaby has entered a Nissan and there are entries for Kuwait’s Mohammed Al-Dhafiri and Emirati Abdullah Al-Heraiz.

Saleh Al-Saif tops a strong lineup in the T3 category at the helm of his Can-Am Maverick X3 and faces 12 Saudi rivals – three in Yamahas, one in a Polaris and eight in Can-Ams.

Ibrahim Al-Muhanna won the Hail International Rally back in 2014 with Emirati navigator Ali Hassan Obaid and he drives the sole T4 Mercedes truck, with Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb alongside.

 Using the event as a perfect opportunity to shake down his KTM 450 Rally after the recent Jordan Baja win is the Emirati racer Mohammed Al-Balooshi. 

He leads  an 18-strong motorcycle field that includes other riders from the host country, New Zealand and the UK.

Philip Wilson represents New Zealand, Anthony King is the sole UK entrant, while Emirati Abdullah bin Dakhan rides a Yamaha against a field that includes 14 Saudi riders.

Multiple Hail International Rally winner Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi tops the quad category on his Yamaha. 

The Saudi has won the Kingdom’s premier off-road rally’s quad section for the last six successive seasons — three times on a Kawasaki and three times on a Yamaha - but faces some of his strongest ever competition in Buraidah.

He lines up against the likes of the experienced Sultan Al-Masoud, Abdulsalam Hamam and Yousef Al-Namasi.

The event is  organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, under the chairmanship of   Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, and takes place from Thursday  to Saturday.

It is the second of five rounds of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship with three further rallies still to run this year on Nov.  4-9, Nov. 27-30 and Dec. 12-14 . 

Action at Rally Qassim 2019 gets underway with a short super special stage of 3.55km from 16:10hrs at Wahtan in Buraidah on Thursday afternoon. There will be 347.80km timed against the clock in a compact route of 548.80km.

The event runs with the support of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, the General Sports Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group and Al-Arabia.