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Muriqui secures Evergrande vital point in Korea

Jeonbuk Motors 1-1 Guangzhou Evergrande

ACL Round 2

Kim Jung-Woo 28′; Muriqui 64′

Attendance: 10,949

Guangzhou Evergrande emerged unscathed from their trip to Korea to take on Jeonbuk Motors on Tuesday night with a second-half goal from Brazilian forward Muriqui ensuring a 1-1 draw for the Cantonese side. Despite controlling the game for the vast majority of the encounter, Evergrande were unable to convert their possession into a positive scoreline but will be content with their evening’s work.

In a repeat of the fixture that Evergrande had stormed to a 5-1 victory in last season, the visitors showed great assurance to quickly establish a strong foothold in the game and negate the Korean’s home advantage. Playing without injured striker Lucas Barrios and the unregistered Elkeson, it was China international Gao Lin who was charged with leading the line and there were promising signs of link up between him and the supporting Muriqui in the opening minutes.

With just seven minutes on the clock, Gao rose high to head Zhang Linpeng’s excellent cross from the right into the Brazilian’s path but Muriqui was unable to keep his volley down on this occasion. Three minutes later and Jeonbuk goalkeeper Choi Eun-Seong was forced into a brilliant save to deny Huang Bowen from a well struck free-kick. Evergrande’s control continued, with Muriqui going close once more soon after after a quick one-two with Gao inside the area. However, the promising start was about to be shattered.

Midway through the first half, with Jeonbuk pushing forward but unable to find a way into the box, Kim Jung-Woo seized upon the opportunity to strike from the edge of the area and his pinpoint shot nestled in the far corner past the despairing Zeng Cheng. Questions will be asked as to why he was afforded so much space by defender Kim Young-Gwon but it was a fine finish deserving of opening the scoring. Evergrande quickly settled back into their patient rhythm but the rest of the half passed with little of note.

The Korean side came out reinvigorated after the half-time break and threatened to extend their lead. A corner from the left found defender Alex Wilkinson in the area and the Australian’s header rattled the crossbar. Lee Dong-Gook will feel he should have done better with the rebound, while just minutes later Zeng was forced into a fine diving save to deny Brazilian forward Leonardo. Lippi had seen enough and introduced Zhao Xuri and Feng Renliang into the side, with the duo helping restore Evergrande’s authority on the game.

Even before the changes had fully taken effect, though, the Guangzhou side were level. With the forwards having rotated, Gao Lin found space to play Muriqui clear behind the Jeonbuk defence and the Brazilian made no mistake to score his third goal of the season to date. Soon after, the Cantonese almost completed the turnaround as the unlikely figure of Dario Conca beat his marker in the air to turn Gao Lin’s cross from the right onto the crossbar. Muriqui, though, could not get his difficult attempt from the rebound on target.

Zhao Xuri and Feng Renliang would try their luck with long-range efforts in the final period with neither testing the keeper, while Muriqui almost repaid Gao for his through ball only for a Jeonbuk defender to read the pass on this occasion. Despite his team’s fine performance, though, Italian coach Lippi was left fuming at full-time as defender Feng Xiaoting was carried off on a stretcher after a reckless challenge in the midfield area. His anger eventually turned to a friendly exchange with opposition manager Fabio Lefundes after the final whistle, but not before he had vented his frustration at the tackle.

Evergrande could and maybe should have pressed home their advantage into maximum points, but will no doubt be satisfied with an away draw ahead of a double header with Thailand’s Muangthong United. The Super League champions currently top Group F on four points, while Ulsan beat Muangthong 4-1 in Japan to move second on three points. Jeonbuk lie third with two points, while the Thai side bring up the rear with just a solitary point from their opening two encounters.

Jeonbuk Motors: Choi Eun-Seong; Jung In-Hwan (Wilkinson 41′), Lim You-Hwan, Leonardo (Oris 73′), Park Won-Jae, Park Hee-Do, Seo Sang-Min, Jeon Kwang-Hwan (Lee Gyu-Ro 55′), Kim Jung-Woo, Hyuk Jung, Lee Dong-Gook

Guangzhou Evergrande: Zeng Cheng; Zhang Linpeng, Feng Xiaoting, Kim Young-Gwon, Sun Xiang; Zheng Zhi, Huang Bowen (Zhao Xuri 60′); Rong Hao (Feng Renliang 60′), Conca, Muriqui; Gao Lin

Based in Guangzhou, Christopher covers Chinese football for a range of media outlets worldwide and is Wild East Football's lead editor for news content.   His work can regularly be seen on ESPN FC, Bleacher Report and Hupu amongst other media outlets, while he has interviewed a number of leading figures in Chinese football.

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