Soccer

Guangzhou beats Club America to set up Barcelona semi

by Jim Armstrong

AP

Paulinho scored in the final minute of stoppage time on Sunday as Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande beat Mexico’s Club America 2-1 to advance to the semifinal of the Club World Cup.

Paulinho’s header off a corner kick in the 93rd minute allowed Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team to secure a showdown with tournament favorite Barcelona on Dec. 17 in Yokohama.

“My goal is to win against Barcelona,” Scolari said. “My job is to convince my players of the possibility to win. Today my players fought hard and won so we should have a giant dream for the next match.”

Club America dominated for most of the second half until substitute Zheng Long equalized in the 80th minute, taking a pass from Gao Lin and beating Club America goalkeeper Moises Munoz with a shot from 15 meters.

Oribe Peralta gave Club America a 1-0 lead 10 minutes after the break on a header off a Dario Benedetto cross.

After taking the lead, the CONCACAF champions had numerous chances to seal the win but Guangzhou goalkeeper Li Shuai made several spectacular saves and the momentum shifted to Scolari’s players.

“I’m not happy with this result,” Club America coach Ignacio Ambriz said. “I have to take responsibility. We lost our focus in the last five minutes and the victory slipped away.”

Under Marcello Lippi, Guangzhou finished fourth in the Club World Cup in Morocco in 2013. Scolari has said his team has the potential to go further this time.

Barcelona forward Neymar is injured and is doubtful for the Club World Cup.

“Even without Neymar, Barcelona has many great players,” Scolari said. “They are a perfect team. So not having Neymar is a slight advantage for us but they are still a great team.”

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