26.10.2013 15:11 h

Football: Late equaliser stuns Guangzhou in AFC final

A late Dejan Damjanovic equaliser left the AFC Champions League final on a knife's edge as FC Seoul held hot favourites Guangzhou Evergrande 2-2 in the first leg Saturday.

In a pulsating match at Seoul World Cup Stadium, the hosts took a surprise early lead but they fell 2-1 behind before Damjanovic fired his precious leveller with seven minutes left.

And it could have been more as both sides had their chances to snatch victory in the dying minutes.

Guangzhou, led by World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, will know they can't afford any slip-ups in the November 9 second leg as they seek to become China's first Asian champions in 23 years.

Lippi had complained bitterly before the game after the training pitch supplied in Seoul did not have adequate lighting, forcing them to train indoors at their hotel.

And his defence certainly looked rusty when Sergio Escudero stole in for FC Seoul's opener when he held off Feng Xiaoting and rolled his shot past goalkeeper Zeng Cheng on 12 minutes.

The goal brought the crowd to life but it was FC Seoul's turn to show defensive frailty on 30 minutes when Brazilian forward Elkeson rose unmarked at a corner to head in from close range.

After turning at 1-1, industrious forward Gao Lin put Guangzhou in front in the 59th minute, deftly redirecting a Sun Xiang cross following a poor clearance attempt.

Damjanovic and fullback Choi Hyo-Jin both had chances as FC Seoul showed signs that Guangzhou, who thrashed Kashiwa Reysol 8-1 on aggregate in the semis, might not have it all their own way.

And it was the pony-tailed Damjanovic who set up a thrilling second leg in Guangzhou when he was picked out in space in the box and slammed his shot in on Zeng's near post.

Guangzhou's Brazilian ace Muriqui was twice denied by last-ditch defending and Damjanovic also nearly grabbed the winner in the frantic final minutes.