I was excited about this match all week, it had me looking forward to the weekend for a reason other than the 2 days away from the office, so perhaps this is why this loss is so hard to take. It’s even kind of hard to remember the last time we were beaten up this badly at home (goal highlights).
Guoan escaped the injury bug that hit the league last weekend, but today, it took only a minute of play before Xu Liang was injured doing a valiant job of breaking up an excellent Hangzhou scoring opportunity. Xu tried his best to continue on, but he quickly needed to be substituted off for Zhu Yifan.
Early in the match, the Men in Green were a force, keeping control of the ball and creating opportunities down the wing. Guoan’s goal came early in the half when Zhang Xinxin played an excellent ball into the box and Joel Griffiths beat his brother to the ball and headed it in.
The talking point for most fans is going to be Lang Zheng. He was previously used more on the wing where he has more cover from the central defenders, but his height (and our lack of defenders) has caused managers to move him into the middle. Much of the blame for the 1st and 3rd goals falls to him as both times he failed to step up and make a play, giving Ramirez enough space to take a shot, a dangerous proposition. Ramirez also had a hand in the 2nd goal, a counter attack where the Guoan defense was caught completely out of position.
There’s still reasons to be optimistic about the rest of this season, perhaps it was nerves connected with this being the home opener that got to them, but outside of the few defensive mishaps, Guoan played well. There were a number of close calls at the offensive end, including a great cross from Martinez that Wang Changqing barely missed (and a penalty could have been given) and a beautiful Zhu Yifan free kick that hit the crossbar. I still have some issues with Guoan’s tendency to play long balls instead of focusing on short passing and using their speed. That long ball strategy doesn’t look so good when its Griffiths and Martinez up front, but when new import Roberto came on late in the match, it looked like he has the height we’ve needed over the
Joel Griffiths said it best, “We know what this guy (Ramirez can do) and we let him do it to us again, that’s why I’m so pissed.” Exactly. It’s never good when you give up 3 goals in a half, but some bad luck kept Guoan from matching them. Pacheco needs to rethink the defensive strategy in the week ahead, things aren’t going to get any easier, especially with Guangzhou away looming next weekend (and possibly without Xu Liang in the lineup). As for a man of the match, it’s never easy in a loss, but Martinez just barely takes it from Zhang Xinxin.
Man of the Match