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21st-Apr-2016

Champs Evergrande crash out of Asia

By AFP, Sydney


Defending title-holders Guangzhou Evergrande crashed out of the AFC Champions League after group rivals Sydney FC and Urawa Red Diamonds played out a goalless draw on Wednesday.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chinese giants won their first game a day earlier but it proved futile as a point each secured the top two spots for Sydney and Urawa with one match to spare.
Sydney reach the last 16 for the first time alongside Urawa, while Chinese domestic champions Evergrande are left licking their wounds after their earliest exit from the competition.
Evergrande won their second Asian title in three seasons last year and they spent heavily in the off-season, buying striker Jackson Martinez from Atletico Madrid for 42 million euros (about $48 million).
But they will now have to watch as Sven-Goran Eriksson's Shanghai SIPG -- featuring former Evergrande stars Elkeson and Dario Conca -- lead the Chinese charge in the knock-out stages.
In a tense game of few chances, Tadanari Lee and Christopher Naumoff both had sight of goal in the first half before Shinzo Koroki nearly put Urawa in front in the 78th minute.
Koroki ran onto a slick backheel from Lee but his low shot was brilliantly saved by Sydney goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic to ensure the game finished 0-0.
Evergrande could still match Urawa's points tally with victory at home against Sydney next week, but they lose out because of their inferior head-to-head record with the Japanese club.
The match in Sydney kicked off a busy night of action across Asia and the Middle East in the penultimate round of group games.