Guangzhou Evergrande are through to the AFC Champions League 2019 quarter-finals after beating Shandong Luneng 6-5 on penalties following a 4-4 aggregate draw in the Round of 16.
Having claimed a 2-1 win in last Tuesday’s first leg, it was Evergrande who drew first blood at the Jinan Olympic Sports Center Stadium after 13 minutes.
An error from Shandong goalkeeper Wang Dalei saw him race off his line but completely miss an attempted gather and, although Yang Liyu pounced but fired off the foot off the post, Paulinho was quickest to react to the loose ball and finish into the unguarded net.
AFC Champions League 2019: Shandong Luneng 0-1 Guangzhou Evergrande (Paulinho 13′)
Now leading 3-1 on aggregate and with an away goal of their own, it seemed a mere formality that the visitors would see out the remainder of the contest but Shandong had other ideas.
Showing admirable endeavour, they equalised on the night two minutes after the hour mark when Gil met Hao Junmin’s corner with a towering header to help the ball on to the back post, where Zhou Haibin was on hand to nod home from two yards out.
Then, eight minutes later, the aggregate scores were levelled when Marouane Fellaini produced a trademark goal, holding off his marker to chest down a searching pass from Jin Jingdao before turning and firing a shot past Liu Dianzuo.
AFC Champions League 2019: Shandong Luneng 2-1 Guangzhou Evergrande (Marouane Fellaini 70′)
Extra-time then beckoned and, within three minutes of the restart, the hosts netted a third as Gil again caused all sorts of problems at a set-piece situation, with the ball eventually falling to Liu Junshuai for a close-range finish.
But, in the 103rd minute, the excellent Paulinho came to Evergrande’s rescue, lining up a freekick 25 yards out from goal and unleashing a brilliant effort that flew past Wang Dalei at the near post to send the contest to the dreaded shootout.
AFC Champions League 2019: Shandong Luneng 3-2 Guangzhou Evergrande (Paulinho 103′)
The first ten regulation efforts were all converted but the 11th saw Cui Peng’s penalty saved by Liu, paving the way for Zhong Yihao to coolly finish from 12 yards and send Evergrande into the last eight.
SHANDONG LUNENG: Wang Dalei, Wang Tong, Dai Lin, Gil, Zheng Zheng (Liu Junshuai 46’), Hao Junmin, Marouane Fellaini, Zhang Chi (Liu Yang 88’), Song Wenjie (Zhou Haibin 56’), Jin Jingdao, Graziano Pelle (Cui Peng 91’).
GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE: Liu Dianzuo, Park Ji-soo, Tyias Browning, Feng Xiaoting (He Chao 82’), Zhang Linpeng, Huang Bowen (Zhong Yihao 66’), Zheng Zhi (Gao Lin 89’), Li Xuepeng, Wei Shihao, Paulinho, Yang Liyu.