Guangzhou defeat Antlers to grab first-leg lead

Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou Evergrande beat J1 League side Kashima Antlers 1-0 in the Round of 16 first-leg playoff clash of the AFC Champions League at Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou on Tuesday.

The only goal was scored by Paulinho in the second half, which means Evergrande have the great record of only ever having lost one game at home in the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League, while Kashima Antlers have never won a game in the knockout stages.

Early in the first half Antlers took the game to the home side with the likes of Mu Kanazaki and Leandro having slight scoring chances but nothing came of them.

In the 19 minute, Evergrande's Brazilian forward Alan Carvalho took a low shot at goal from the left side of the box but he was denied by a save from goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae.

A few minutes later anther save by Kwoun stopped Ricardo Goulart from opening his sides account.

In the 31st minute, Ricardo had another chance when his header went narrowly wide of the post after getting on the end of a cross by Li Xuepeng.

A bit later, Antlers' Leandro received a pass from Shoma Doi and hammered a low shot goalwards but was denied by a save from keeper Zeng Cheng.

The sides went in at the halftime break with the score tied at 0-0.

Mu received a pass on the right side of the box from Pedro Junior but had his attempt at goal saved in the 52nd minute.

The home side had a few chances at goal via Ricardo, Alan and Yu Hanchao but were denied by poor shooting and solid goalkeeping by Kwoun. 

Then in the 75th-minute things changed when Evergrande opened the scoring through Paulinho with a close-range shot after receiving a cross after a corner from Yu to hand his side the 1-0 lead.

In the end Evergrande held out for the vital home win with the return leg taking place on May 30 at Kashima Soccer Stadium in Ibaraki.