GUANGZHOU, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Defending champion Guangzhou Evergrande secured a place in AFC Champions League quarterfinals with a 5-2 aggregate win over Cerezo Osaka, despite a 1-0 home defeat to their Japanese rivals here on Tuesday.
The defeat marked Guangzhou's first home losing streak since they promoted to the Chinese Super league in 2011.
Mitch Nichols could have opened the scoring for Osaka as early as the fourth minute in the first half, only to see Zeng Cheng push it off the post. Zhao Xuri of the host team picked up Diamanti's through ball to make a very close effort which was denied by Kim Jin-Hyeon in the 24th minute. Despite a goalless first half, Guangzhou were pushing to achieve a home win after losing to city rivals R&F on Friday, but only to see Liao Lisheng touch the ball to his own net in the 49th minute. Osaka's South Korean keeper Kim finally killed the hope for the home team to come back with Elkson and Diamanti's efforts.
Having played four games in 11 days for the defending champions, some of Guangzhou's players seemed to be low on energy. However, Marcello Lippi did not consider fatigue as the first to blame.
"Our players were tired physically, but it was not the reason for losing the match. Actually, we were beaten mentally, as we had made so many mistakes from the goalkeeper to forwards," he said.
"We have to do more to become a great team, especially mentally," the 65-year-old added.
Osaka's coach Ranko Popovic believed his team deserved a victory at Guangzhou, despite losing 5-1 in the first leg.
"We deserve the victory, we spared every effort to win and made it finally. It is a pity we suffered a too heavy loss at first leg, which made us impossible to come back," said the Serbian.