POHANG, South Korea (AP) — Defending champion Guangzhou Evergrande confirmed its quarterfinal spot in the Asian Champions League despite a 1-0 defeat to Cerezo Osaka on Tuesday, advancing with a 5-2 aggregate set up with a thumping away win last week.
An own goal in the 50th minute was the only real blemish for Marcello Lippi's Chinese Super League champions in the second round.
"Our goalkeeper, defenders and midfielders made lots of mistakes which led to a sense of insecurity for the entire team," said the Italian World Cup winner Lippi.
"Today's opponents didn't send their best team, so mentally our team was too relaxed ... and it also proved that Guangzhou Evergrande is not a great team because a great team wouldn't show such a loose attitude in an important match like this."
Three-time Asian champion Pohang secured the first spot in the quarterfinals with an earlier 1-0 win over Jeonbuk Hyundai, giving them a 3-1 aggregate victory in a second-round series between the top two teams in the K-League.
The Steelers came back for a 2-1 win at Jeonbuk last week and sealed progression to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010 with Kim Seung-dae's goal in the sixth minute. It was Kim's fifth goal of Pohang's unbeaten campaign so far in the 2014 tournament.
Jeonbuk, the 2006 champion and losing finalist in 2011, was reduced to 10 men after midfielder Choi Bo-kyung was red-carded in the 37th minute after an exchange with Lee Myoung-ju.