Away at Nanchang is the kind of game that’s easy to slip up with, playing an average (at best) side in front of a large home crowd, often times complacency sets in and especially when the game is close late, it’s easy for the home side to poach a goal and a point (or three).
There were nerves that this would be the case after Guoan came out and played a mediocre first half. The sides went to the change room at the half with Guoan up by 1, despite having a ton of chances (including a sitter by Martinez set up by Piao Cheng and Roberto). At the same time, Nanchang’s counter-attack wasn’t completely worthless. Roberto, making his first start for the Men in Green, came up with the 1st half’s only goal, a fine effort, when a Zhang Xinxin cross found his head at the back post. Any concern as to how Guoan would be without Griffiths in the lineup were quickly squashed, Roberto showed that he has the potential to be a quality Chinese Super League player, his height and skill are going to give manager Jamie Pacheco a bit of a happy dilemma as to who should start up top.
If you hear a sound, it’s me banging the drum for Walter Martinez as player of the month. This wasn’t his best match, he had plenty of chances and couldn’t put many away, but in the 73rd minute, a ball fell to Zhou Ting who played a low pass across the front of the net that found Martinez in the middle. This time he made sure to put it away, giving Guoan a 2-0 lead with 15 minutes left, pretty much securing them 3 tough road points. Yet another added time effort goal, this time from Wang Changqing, who hustled down the pitch and got through two tough tackles to put the game on ice.
Another 3 points after another 3-0 win for the capital side, if they keep this up the fans are going to start expecting too much. Pacheco’s done a great job where Hong Yuanshuo failed, putting together a solid side and managing it well. He’s also been blessed with some truly talented new additions in Piao Cheng and Roberto, alongside some young players who are developing fast. Guoan’s back in Beijing for a few days, but will be travelling this weekend, heading to Chengdu for what should be another 3 points.
There’s another story involved in this match, one off the pitch. A small contingent of Guoan fans made the trip down to Nanchang, whose fans didn’t do much to welcome them. This subject will be covered more later in the week, but suffice to say, once again, the issue of hooliganism in China has been brought to the fore.
Man of the Match