Shanghai SIPG players celebrate after a goal by Hulk in their ACL win against Evergrande.
Andre Villas-Boas launched a stinging attack on Guangzhou Evergrande and the Asian Football Confederation after his Shanghai SIPG side advanced to the semifinals of the Asian Champions League in dramatic fashion on Tuesday evening.
SIPG crawled over the line to claim a 5-4 penalty shootout win over the two-time champions after previously squandering a 4-0 first-leg advantage as the game went into extra-time and penalties.
The game eventually ended in a 5-5 aggregate draw with SIPG advancing but, despite the win, Villas-Boas was aggrieved at the performance of officials across the two legs of the all-Chinese Super League tie.
“In the last game Fu Huan had a very clean slide tackle which led to his suspension in this match,” said the former Chelsea and Porto boss.
“Yan Junling gained a yellow card during the penalty shootout without proper reason. When it came to the choice of which net to be used for the penalties, the referee made the decision based on the fans’ reactions.
“Also in the last game, Zhang Linpeng has hit Elkeson with his elbow very, very obviously and he should have been suspended according to regulations, but he wasn’t.
“In addition, on our way here, we had accidents three times with the same two cars. These things are not imaginable.
“Given so many obstacles, SIPG finally won with an outstanding performance. But I can’t understand a club such as our opponent can make these things happen. A win under these circumstances is very, very encouraging for us.
“Evergrande have been manipulating the AFC. They can do whatever they want.”
Villas-Boas’ comments came at the end of a remarkable evening in which Ricardo Goulart and Alan both scored twice during regular time to take the game into an additional 30 minutes.
Hulk’s stunning free kick 10 minutes from the end of the second period of extra time looked set to take the visitors through, only for Goulart to strike from the penalty spot after Muriqui had been fouled.
That goal took the game into a shootout, where Goulart missed the opening spot kick before Yu Hai hit the winner for SIPG to set up a semifinal against either Urawa Red Diamonds or Kawasaki Frontale.
Guangzhou head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, meanwhile, praised his team’s second leg display after all had seemed lost following the first meeting between the teams in Shanghai last month.
“It is not easy to imagine the stress on a team that has conceded four goals in the first game,” he said. “Today, Evergrande have proven that our players are all true men. I have to applaud the Evergrande spirit. I am satisfied with every one of them.
“If I remember correctly, this is the first time in my 30-year career that my team lost four goals in the first round and levelled it back in the second leg.
“This is a very high level competition and both sides showed their qualities. We are competing with SIPG in the Asian Champions League, the Chinese Super League and the Chinese FA Cup. We have witnessed their improvement.
“Today they hung in there until the last and finally they won, which proves their growth.”
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch