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Guangzhou: Yan Junling has described Shanghai SIPG’s extraordinary 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Guangzhou Evergrande in the second leg of the AFC Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday as the “craziest” game he has ever been involved in.

Shanghai took a 4-0 lead from the first leg into the reverse fixture at Tianhe Stadium but faced an onslaught from the two-time champions that resulted in Ricardo Goulart levelling the aggregate scoreline at 4-4 in injury time.

Hulk’s free-kick then had the visitors 5-4 up on aggregate only for Goulart to equalise from the spot to force penalties. But the Brazilian then struck the post with the first spot-kick and saw the ensuing nine converted as Yu Hai’s coolly taken penalty sent Shanghai through to a first semi-final.

 

“This was the craziest game I have played in during my career,” said Yan.

“We have all experienced all the things that can happen in a football match and before the game we agreed that four goals might not be enough to see us qualify for the semi-finals.

“However, I think we took it too easy during the 90 minutes tonight. The team is not satisfied with the result but it is good we can see the problems we have.”

Shanghai were pinned back from the off with Brazilian duo Goulart and Alan running riot as the latter netted a brace in a 45-minute period that could and perhaps should have seen Guangzhou score more.

The hosts continued in the same vein after the restart, with Goulart striking the woodwork before eventually finding the back of the net with 16 minutes to play and then again in stoppage time to force an additional 30 minutes.

A moment of magic from Hulk restored Shanghai’s aggregate lead after they had lost Wang Jiajie to a second yellow card, before captain Wang Shenchao was dismissed in the incident leading to Goulart’s equalising penalty.

Down but not out, Andre Villas-Boas’ team managed to hold their nerve when it mattered most, netting all five of their penalties to ensure Goulart’s miss – the first of 10 spot-kicks – proved costly.

“The best thing is that we qualified for the semi-finals, which is more important than the score,” added Yan.

“Now we can say that we have made history for Shanghai, for our club, and this is what we can celebrate at this moment.

“I’m sure we’ll work out later what went wrong in this game.”

Photos: Lagardère Sports

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