Guangzhou downs Melbourne to open title defense

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 26, 2014 at 5:45 pm •  Published: February 26, 2014

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — Italy midfielder Alessandro Diamanti scored two of Guangzhou Evergrande's four second-half goals as the reigning champions made an emphatic start to their Asian Champions League defense with a 4-2 win over Australia's Melbourne Victory on Wednesday.

Trailing 2-0 at halftime, Diamanti scored in the 59th and 65th minutes to draw Guangzhou level, before Huang Bowen and Elkeson added goals in the 71st and 84th minutes to give the Chinese club the three points in Group G.

Melbourne dominated the first half, with Pablo Contreras opening the scoring in the 37th minute and Leigh Boxham extending the lead five minutes later.

Guangzhou coach Marcello Lippi said his team weathered a "difficult game."

"Our opponents are in the middle of their league season and in good shape," the former Italy coach said. "We were behind their performance in the first half and they deserved to lead 2-0. But in the second half we found our tempo to control the game. Most importantly, our players showed a strong desire to win."

In the other Group G match, Lee Seung-gi scored twice and Leonardo converted a penalty as South Korean club Jeonbuk Motors defeated Japan's Yokohama F Marinos 3-0.

After a scoreless first half at Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Lee put the hosts on the scoresheet in the 61st minute when he beat Yokohama goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto, and doubled the lead just eight minutes later.

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