SYDNEY - Western Sydney Wanderers weathered an "orchestrated" disruption campaign including car crashes and laser beams before upsetting Chinese holders Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League, reports said Thursday.
Australian newspapers claimed players were woken by people knocking on their doors and ringing their hotel phones throughout the night before the match in southern China.
Despite the incidents, the debutants sent the deep-pocketed champions and tournament favourites crashing out on away goals over their two-legged quarter-final, in one of the competition's great shocks.
The Daily Telegraph said the Wanderers were involved in two traffic accidents on the way to Guangzhou's Tianhe stadium.
"A car scraped the side of the team bus, forcing them to brake hard and a bus containing 20 tourists travelling behind rammed into them," the newspaper said.
"Players and officials had to get into a support bus, but minutes later two cars smashed into each other and further delayed the team in an orchestrated plan to upset the Sydney team," it added.
The newspaper said during the match Wanderers players had laser beams shone into their eyes from home fans, while bottles were also thrown from the stands.
Guangzhou won Wednesday's second leg 2-1 but the Wanderers reached the semis on away goals following their 1-0 victory in Sydney last week.
Guangzhou coach Marcello Lippi received a touchline ban after storming onto the pitch in Sydney to complain about two late red cards.
On the Wanderers' arrival in Guangzhou, home fans at the airport held up placards warning players against diving, in reference to the incidents in Sydney.
The result was particularly surprising given Guangzhou's exalted financial status compared with the Wanderers, a club which is only two years old and has a salary cap of A$2.5 million (S$2.9 million).
"The wealthiest club in Asia will cry poor and feel robbed but ultimately they were let down by themselves over the course of a tie where everything conspired against them," the Sydney Morning Herald said.
"They are the reigning Asian champions who are accustomed to winning, yet here they stumbled against a team built on a fraction of their budget, a team that didn't exist when this incredible run began."