Sanfrecce leave Cannavaro's Chinese giants on the brink

Tokyo (AFP) –


Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat Guangzhou Evergrande 1-0 on Wednesday to reach the AFC Champions League knockout rounds and deepen the problems of the Chinese giants' coach Fabio Cannavaro.

A first-half own goal was enough to send the Japanese side through, but it left Cannavaro's two-time Asian champions tottering at third in Group F ahead of the final round of pool games.

Elimination on May 22 against second-placed Daegu FC -- who are two points clear of Evergrande -- would raise serious questions over the position of Italian great Cannavaro.

It has been a turbulent season for the 2006 World Cup-winner, who aborted a brief and disastrous spell as China national boss and whose seven-time Chinese champions are trailing in third in the domestic Super League.

A hesitant Evergrande started slowly and they were behind after 15 minutes to Wei Shihao's own goal, when the ball deflected in off the defender from a corner.

It set up a comfortable first half for Sanfrecce who should have had a penalty when Brazilian forward Patric was bundled over, while Evergrande's Zhang Xiuwei had a strong shot cleared off the line.

Cannavaro's double substitution at half-time galvanised Evergrande, but despite enjoying far more possession in the second period, they rarely threatened to get back on terms.

To add to Evergrande's problems, they were left needing victory in their final game after South Korea's Daegu hammered already eliminated Melbourne Victory 4-0.

Brazilian forward Edgar scored his fourth of the tournament from the penalty spot after nine minutes, following Josh Hope's foul on Kim Dae-won.

Early in the second half, Jeong Tae-wook gobbled up the rebound from his own header before Kim Dae-won made it three with a rasping strike 10 minutes from time.

Jung Seon-ho made it 4-0 three minutes later against an outclassed Victory as Daegu moved within sight of the knockout phase on their debut in the competition.