Paulinho of China’s Guangzhou Evergrande heads the ball for the winning goal past Mexico’s Club America goalkeeper Moises Munoz during stoppage time of their Club World Cup quarterfinal match in Osaka on Sunday. Evergrande won 2-1. (AFP Photo/Kazuhiro Nogi)

Scolari’s Evergrande Stuns America to Reach Semis


DECEMBER 13, 2015

Osaka. Asian champion Guangzhou Evergrande came from behind and scored twice in the last 10 minutes to stun its CONCACAF counterpart America and reach the Club World Cup semifinals on Sunday.

The Chinese side, led by former Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, could even afford to miss an open goal when it was trailing 1-0, on its way to earning a dream tie against European champion Barcelona on Thursday.

The Mexicans appeared to be on course for a comfortable win when Oribe Peralta headed them ahead early in the second half.

But Zheng Long equalized with 10 minutes left and former Tottenham and Brazil midfielder Paulinho headed a dramatic winner in stoppage time.

Scolari, who was in charge of the Brazil team beaten 7-1 by Germany on home soil in last year’s World Cup semifinal, has not lost a match since taking over at Guangzhou in May.

His Chinese side was boosted by four Brazilians, including former Real Madrid and Manchester City forward Robinho, in the lineup.

“Big Phil” was typically excitable on the touchline and got into an argument with America captain Rubens Sambueza over a tough tackle on Robinho.

“Our team did everything to get here, to win and to play Barcelona and now we are going to play them, it’s absolutely spectacular for us,” Scolari told reporters.

Goalkeeper Li Shuai kept America at bay as it poured forward in the first half, although Guangzhou mounted some dangerous attacks of its own.

America went ahead after an intense spell of pressure when Mexico forward Peralta met Dario Benedetto’s low cross with a diving header at the near post, but it then lowered the tempo.

Guangzhou sounded a warning when a corner was headed across goal and Xiaoting Feng, unmarked at the far post, miscued the ball with the goal at his mercy.

But it equalized after Richard Goulart got away down the left and found Gao Lin with a low cross into the center. He laid the ball back for Zheng who drilled the ball past Moises Munoz.

Encouraged by that, Guangzhou went in search of the equalizer and it came when America’s defense lost concentration and Paulinho headed in.

“It’s a failure and we are not at all happy; we lost concentration completely for five or 10 minutes. What I have seen is not at all good,” America coach Ignacio Ambriz told reporters.