GUANGZHOU, China — Brazilian striker Elkeson secured the Asian Champions League title for Luiz Felipe Scolari's Guangzhou Evergrande on Saturday, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 defeat of Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates.
Elkeson hadn't found the net in the ACL since April but made no mistake in the 54th minute of the second leg of the ACL final, spinning Salmin Khamis sharply and keeping his composure to slot home for the Chinese team.
Khamis made the visitors' task even harder in the 66th, receiving a straight red for stamping on Zou Zheng.
First-time finalist Al Ahli still only needed to score once to snatch the trophy on away goals after a scoreless first leg in Dubai, and Lima had its best chance in the 78th. But the former Benfica man was denied by a last-ditch challenge from Kim Young-gwon, giving Guangzhou its second Asian title in three years.
"I want to summarize my feelings in one sentence: the winners are those who do not give up," Scolari said.
Elkeson also scored in the second leg of the 2013 final when Guangzhou beat FC Seoul to claim its first ACL crown.
Guangzhou player Zhang Linpeng wasn't surprised by his teammate's goal.
"Before the game I told him he was going to score today and he did," Zhang told the AP. "He's become a hero of Guangzhou."
Guangzhou had the first chance of the game as early as the 7th minute, but Ricardo Goulart couldn't quite divert the ball in after a cutback from the left.
The visitors gave as good as they got in a frenetic opening half hour, though, with Everton Ribeiro causing problems with surging runs down the center.
After one such foray in the 10th, he found his fellow Brazilian Lima on the edge of the box, but he couldn't make enough space to get in a shot.
Everton Ribeiro set up Lima again in the 27th, but the 32-year-old saw his shot well saved by Zeng Cheng.
Elkeson was far more predatory when his chance came.
The 26-year-old had struggled this season with injury but was no slouch when receiving from Zheng Long inside the Al Ahli penalty area, slotting the ball beyond Ahmed Ashoori to the delight of more than 42,000 fans inside Tianhe Sport Centre Stadium.
Losing Khamis sealed the defeat for Al Ahli.
"After that it's difficult with 10 men to score," Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu said. "But we tried, we pushed, and did what was possible to try and score."