Football 2 years ago

Sydney FC top ACL group despite loss

  • Sydney FC top ACL group despite loss

    GUANGZHOU, CHINA - MAY 03: Supporters of Sydney FC cheer during the AFC Asian Champions League match between Guangzhou Evergrande FC and Sydney FC at Tianhe Stadium on May 3, 2016 in Guangzhou, China. (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

Sydney FC have finished top of their Asian Champions League group despite a 1-0 away loss to defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande in China.

The only goal came after just 82 seconds when veteran striker Gao Lin lashed a first-time shot into the net from just in front of the penalty spot.

Urawa Red Diamonds needed to beat Pohang Steelers to leapfrog Sydney, but were held to a 1-1 draw.

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Sydney will face China's Shandong Luneng FC later in May in the last 16.

Guangzhou hit the post and blew another good chance early, but the Sky Blues played with greater authority as the game progressed.

"It wasn't the start we wanted - we stated slow," Sydney coach Graham Arnold said in his post-match TV interview.

"But overall, I was very happy. I thought we played excellent tonight and we had enough chances to win the game.

"I thought we dominated major parts of the game, but it was just the final ball and the goalscoring."

In the first half, midfielder Milos Ninkovic had a close-range volley blocked and Brandon O'Neill had a free-kick saved.

The visitors were the more-enterprising side after the break and manufactured the majority of goalscoring chances.

Striker Shane Smeltz spurned a couple of good late opportunities. He had a header saved and then volleyed over from a mishit O'Neill shot.

The result completed a grand night for Australian clubs, with Melbourne Victory also advancing to the last 16 following a 2-1 home win over Japan's Gamba Osaka.

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