Football: Evergrande 'invasion' flops as Sydney send champions packing

Sydney's David Carney (centre) is tackled by Feng Xiaoting, Kim Young-gwon (L) and Liu Jian (2-R) of Evergrande Taobao during their match at the Sydney Football Stadium on March 2, 2016.
Sydney's David Carney (centre) is tackled by Feng Xiaoting, Kim Young-gwon (L) and Liu Jian (2-R) of Evergrande Taobao during their match at the Sydney Football Stadium on March 2, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

(AFP) - Milos Dimitrijevic's late winner stunned China's Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday as the super-rich AFC Champions League title-holders were sent packing 2-1 by a determined Sydney FC.

Luiz Felipe Scolari's Evergrande boast one of Asia's most potent and expensive strike-forces, but Dimitrijevic's 88th-minute clincher and Ricardo Goulart's penalty miss made it an away trip to forget.

Graham Arnold's side shocked the visitors as Evergrande ended the second week of competition bottom of Group H with just one point from two matches.

"Before the game the coach told us, let's try to shock Asia to win this game, and I think we did it and I hope we will keep going," Dimitrijevic said.

Sydney began strongly before a noisy crowd dominated by red-shirted Guangzhou supporters, swelled by Evergrande's giveway of more than 9,000 free tickets to the local expat Chinese community.

But Sydney, assembled for a fraction of the cost of Evergrande, constantly took the game to the Chinese giants and they took the lead when Robert Stambolziev scored on 17 minutes.

The Guangzhou defenders failed to clear the ball from the danger area before a downward header from Shane Smeltz found Stambolziev, who stabbed the ball home.

The defending champions had a chance to hit back almost immediately, when record signing Martinez of Colombia was pulled down by Sebastian Ryall for a penalty.

But Brazilian playmaker Goulart's poorly struck spot kick was well saved by home goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic, diving sharply to his right.

However, Evergrande levelled only three minutes later when Goulart released Huang Bowen, whose goal-bound shot cannoned in off lunging defender Rhyan Grant.

Goulart looked to have a good claim for a penalty nine minutes from the end when he was apparently held back by Grant as he tried to wriggle his way clear in the box.

But ultimately Serbian substitute Dimitrijevic was Sydney's hero as his shot squirmed beneath Guangzhou goalkeeper Zeng Cheng in the 88th minute.

The defeat deals an early blow to Evergrande's bid for a third Asian title in four years, following a bumper spending spree by Chinese clubs in the recent transfer window.

Elsewhere, Pohang Steelers, who held Evergrande 0-0 last week, beat Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0 through Jun Ho Son's first-half penalty to go top of Group H.

In Group G, Shanghai SIPG gave Evergrande further cause for regret when offloaded striker Elkeson fired their Chinese rivals to a 2-1 win over Suwon Bluewings.

The Brazilian, sold despite being Evergrande's top scorer last year, produced a typically strong run and finish in the first half before Wu Lei doubled Shanghai's lead and Jang Hyun Soo pulled one back for Suwon.