Guangzhou hit Melbourne for four in ACL drubbing

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A first-half masterclass from two-time AFC Champions League winners Guangzhou Evergrande saw them coast to a 4-0 win over Melbourne Victory at the Tianhe Stadium on Wednesday.

With both teams coming into the game on the back of losses on Matchday Two in Group F, Fabio Cannavaro and Kevin Muscat knew a win was needed to keep their respective hopes alive and it was the former Italian international defender who was smiling early.

The crossbar denied the home side from taking the lead in the fourth minute when Anderson Talisca's exquisite free kick smashed back off the woodwork, but he made amends two minutes later when he headed home from Gao Lin's cross to give his side the lead.

It was that man Talisca again who made it 2-0 on 10 minutes with an outstanding curling effort from the edge of the area giving Melbourne's goalkeeper Matt Acton no hope as Guangzhou looked set for a big victory.

Paulinho looked to get in on the fun after 16 minutes, but his clever free-kick under the wall was well saved by Acton, before Melbourne had their first chance of the evening when Kosta Barbarouses attempted a cheeky backheel volley.

Content with their 2-0 lead, the home side were happy for Muscat's team to have more of the possession and play on the counter and they did so perfectly on 34 minutes, but Paulinho was once again denied by a sharp save from Acton.

Barbarouses again looked the most likely outlet for the visitors, and two minutes later he forced a reflex save out of Liu Dianzuo.

It was from another clinical counterattack that Guangzhou added a third, with Talisca and Paulinho combining before the former Barcelona midfielder slipped the ball in for Yang Liyu who fired his effort past Acton to give the home side a comfortable 3-0 lead heading into half time. 

Melbourne's night went from bad to worse in the second half when Guangzhou added a fourth courtesy of an unlucky own goal from Leigh Broxham, with the ball ricocheting off the veteran after Acton did well to save Gao Lin's point-blank effort.

The loss leaves Melbourne rooted to the bottom of Group F with zero points from their three games, making it all but impossible for them to advance to the knockout rounds, while Guangzhou take top spot in the group ahead of their trip to Melbourne for the return leg in two weeks.

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