VIDEO: Lippi’s Evergrande beat Al Ahly 2-0 in CWC quarter-final
The Cairo giants were looking to start their fifth Club World Cup campaign with a good performance against the recently Asian Champions League winners, Guangzhou Evergrande. However, goals from Elkeson and Conca in the second half sent the Chinese side through to the semis, to meet the European champions Bayern Munich.
Al Ahly XI (4-2-3-1): Sherif Ekramy; Ahmed Fathi, Saad Samir, Mohamed Naguib, Ahmed Shedid; Rami Rabia, Hossam Ashour (Mahmoud ‘Trezguet’ ’78); Abdullah El-Said, Walid Soliman, Mohamed Abou-Treika (Dominique da Silva ’45); Emad Meteb (El-Sayed Hamdy ’64) [C].
Guangzhou Evergrande XI (4-3-3): Zeng; Zhang, Sun (Eksori ’79), Feng, Kim; Conca, Zheng [C], Huang; Elkeson, Gao (Hao ’62), Muriqui
Mohamed Youssef, Al-Ahly’s coach decided to start with the 24-year-old defender Saad Samir at the expense of Al Ahly’s captain and the Egyptian’s side ever-present player in the tournament, Wael Gomaa. This decision was met by skepticism by most of the fans before kick-off.
The game started at a very fast pace from both sides, as Guangzhou Evergrande’s Elkeson header was just wide of Ekramy’s post. Two minutes later, Zeng, the Chinese keeper mistimed a clearance that found its way to Meteab, who squared the ball to Abou-Treika, however, the Egyptian legend missed the header from inside the six-yard box. Evergrande’s Brazilian playmaker, Elkeson, almost scored after 15 minutes, only for his shot to miss Ekramy’s left post by the narrowest of margins.
The rest of the first 45 minutes saw Al Ahly retaining possession, without any danger to the Chinese defense. Guangzhou Evergrande – who are managed by the Italian legend Marcello Lippi – looked to stay compact in their own half and look for the fast counter attack, as the first half finished.
The 15 minutes break proved to be pivotal for both sides chances in the game. Marcello Lippi’s instructions to his side changed the game completely, whereas Youssef had to react to the injury of his best player, Mohamed Abou-Treika.
Mohamed Youssef decided to throw in Dominique da Silva for the injured playmaker, thus changing his formation to a 4-2-2-2.
Guangzhou Evergrande were in total control at the start of the second half, and 4 minutes after the restart, a long ball from deep positions sent Muriqui one on one with Ekramy. Muriqui kept his composure and rounded the Egyptian goalkeeper and sent his ball on target, before Ahmed Fathi managed a goal-line clearance, only for Elkeson to capitalize and score in the empty net.
The move which was converted by the Chinese side looked like a tactical one from the Italian World Cup winner coach, as minutes later, Muriqui almost doubled Guangzhou Evergrande’s lead from the exact move, only for his finish to miss the target this time.
Youssef replaced Emad Meteb with El-Sayed Hamdy in order to get back into the game. However, at the 67th minute, Conca deservedly managed to double Guangzhou Evergrande’s lead from another ball at the heart of Al Ahly’s defense from Elekson to Muriqui who’s initial shot was saved by Ekramy but only for Conca to tap in the ball into the empty net.
Al Ahly’s only real chance in the second half came from Abdullah El-Said in the 82nd minute, as his 30-yard shot clipped the bar before going out for a goal-kick. The Chinese side ran down the clock until they were confirmed winners 10 minutes later.
Al Ahly’s lackluster performance may be due to the nonexistent domestic competition. However, Al Ahly fans will be very disappointed with the performance nonetheless. In addition, with Abou-Treika’s injury, this might be his last ever performance in professional football.
Al Ahly will meet the loser of the Raja Casablanca of Morocco vs Monterrey of Mexico for the 5th place on Wednesday the 18th of December (16:30 GMT)
Watch both of Guangzhou Evergrande’s goals below: