By Michael Church
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Beijing Guoan hit the woodwork twice but were unable to find a breakthrough as Bruno Genesio’s side were held to a 0-0 draw by champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the first leg of their Chinese Super League playoff semi-final on Wednesday.
Renato Augusto and Cedric Bakambu both hit the woodwork in the final 20 minutes of an impressive first half display by Beijing while Jonathan Viera also went close in the dying seconds of the first 45 minutes.
Guangzhou had ceded control of a game they had earlier dominated through former Barcelona midfielder Paulinho and Brazil-born China internationals Elkeson and Fernandinho.
But Fabio Cannavaro’s side almost stole the win five minutes from time when Wei Shihao thought his angled attempt from the left was destined for the bottom corner, only for Beijing goalkeeper Hou Sen to push the ball to safety.
The two teams face off again in the second leg on Monday, with the winner meeting either Jiangsu Suning or Shanghai SIPG in the final.
Earlier in the day, Jordi Cruyff's Shenzhen FC moved a step closer to avoiding relegation with a 1-0 win over Shijiazhuang Ever Bright in the first leg of their playoff.
John Mary scored the only goal of the game in stoppage time to leave Cruyff’s side needing a draw when the teams meet again in the second leg on Monday.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge)