Honours even as Guangzhou Evergrande denied by Kashima Antlers

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

The AFC Champions League 2019 quarter-final between Guangzhou Evergrande and Kashima Antlers remains evenly poised after both sides played out a 0-0 first leg draw at the Tianhe Stadium.

In what was the second China-Japan clash in as many days, following the 2-2 draw between Shanghai SIPG and Urawa Red Diamonds, it was the visitors who made the brighter start on Wednesday.

Leo Silva came close with a speculative effort after eight minutes, while Serginho should have turned better after firing wide from a decent opening in the 23rd minute.

However, Evergrande eventually got into the contest and Kashima goalkeeper had to be alert to ensure his team went in at the break still level on the scoreboard, beating away a ferocious drive by Anderson Talisca and then getting his angles right to deny Wei Shihao.

The hosts then arguably enjoyed the better of proceedings after halftime but were unable to find a way past a stubborn opposition backline.

But, as the game entered its closing stages, it was the Antlers who came closest to breaking the deadlock but to no avail.

Promising forward Ayase Ueda, having come on as a substitute, found his way in behind the Evergrande defence with six minutes remaining but was unable to beat Zeng Cheng, who deserved credit for racing off his line promptly.

Four minutes later, Ryohei Shirasaki looked to have finally found the breakthrough as he tried his luck from 25 yards with a dipping effort that had caught Zeng out, only to see if come back off the bar as both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE: Zeng Cheng, Zhang Linpeng, Gao Zhunyi, Park Ji-soo, Deng Hanwen, Zheng Zhi (Huang Bowen 76’), Yang Liyu (Gao Lin 66’), Anderson Talisca, Paulinho, Wei Shihao (Xu Xin 54’), Elkeson.

KASHIMA ANTLERS: Kwoun Sun-tae, Kei Koizumi (Ryota Nagaki 71’), Jung Seung-hyun, Tomoya Inukai, Koki Machida, Serginho, Kento Misao, Leo Silva, Ryohei Shirasaki (Shintaro Nago 90’), Shoma Doi, Sho Ito (Ayase Ueda 68’).