By Michael Church
HONGKONG (Reuters) – Two-time champions Guangzhou Evergrande bounced back from their first defeat in this year’s Asian Champions League with a 4-0 thrashing of Melbourne Victory at Tianhe Stadium on Wednesday.
Anderson Talisca scored twice in the opening 10 minutes as Guangzhou highlighted the gap in quality between themselves and the A League side before Yang Liyu struck three minutes before halftime.
The Chinese Super League (CSL) side’s win was completed by Leigh Broxham’s own goal 17 minutes from time.
The 2013 and 2015 continental champions now have six points from three games having lost their last game against tournament debutantes Daegu FC from South Korea last month.
Guangzhou are in a three-way tie in Group F with Daegu and Sanfrecce Hiroshima after the J-League leaders notched up a 2-0 home win over the Korean side thanks to goals from Douglas Vieira and Daiki Watari.
Melbourne prop up the standings having yet to claim a point as the group phase reaches the halfway point.
Sydney FC, meanwhile, were denied their first win of the campaign despite taking the lead three times against CSL champions Shanghai SIPG, who scored a late equaliser in a 3-3 draw.
“We’re obviously disappointed to throw away the lead a couple of times in a game like this against top quality players, let’s not kid ourselves,” said Sydney striker Adam Le Fondre.
“But we gave a great account of ourselves and I think we can feel hard done by that we’ve not got the win.”
Ulsan Hyundai from South Korea lead Group H with seven points as Kim Su-an’s stoppage time strike gave them victory over Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale.
SIPG are second on four points, with Frontale a further point behind and Sydney bottom of the standings.
In the western half of the draw, Xavi Hernandez rolled back to years to score twice as Qatar’s Al Sadd shared a 2-2 draw with Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor in their meeting in Tashkent.
The former Spain midfielder put his side in front with a curling effort six minutes into the game and restored their lead six minutes after Khodjiakbar Alidjanov had levelled with a free kick from distance.
Dragan Ceran, however, earned Pakhtakor a point four minutes before the interval to leave them a point clear at the top of Group D from Al Sadd, with Persepolis in third following their 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli.
In Group B, Al Wahda from the United Arab Emirates moved into pole position with a 2-1 win over Qatar’s Al Rayyan.
They were joined on six points by two-time champions Al Ittihad from Saudi Arabia, who won 3-2 against Lokomotiv Tashkent from Uzbekistan thanks to Fahad Al Muwallad’s stoppage time penalty.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge)