Saturday night’s match was a microcosm of Guoan’s entire season, ultimately ending in yet another disappointing 1-1 draw. I wrote a whole post about it already, quite possibly the most well written match report ever, unfortunately it was eaten by the dog inside wordpress (no doubt the same dog who always ate my homework as a kid), so you get this crappy version as a replacement.
Guoan only had a single foreigner, Roberto, make the trip to Xian as Darko Matic and Joel Griffiths were both suspended and Martinez was injured. Captain Xu Yunlong also didn’t suit up, replaced by Olympic teamer Lei Tenglong. Manager Jamie Pacheco was also relegated to the stands due to his middle finger suspension.
If all of this was a reason for concern, the players certainly didn’t show it. Despite all the missing players, the team’s attack didn’t falter. Instead they played an excellent first half, using short passes to open up the opponent’s defense, creating a number of good chances. That in mind, they fell behind when young Lei was said to have “fouled” a Shaanxi attacker in the box. It looked like an obvious dive, much worse than even the penalty awarded in Henan, leaving fans once again frustrated by a questionable call. Qu Bo finished it well, putting the home side up 1-0 just before the half hour mark.
Guoan continued attacking but didn’t get an equalizer until moments before the end of the half. It was the kind of setup you don’t see from a lot of teams, Guoan completed 18 passes before finding Zhang Xinxin in space, he took a hard shot from outside the box, the goalie saved but gave up a big rebound, which Xu Liang easily put in the back of the net. It was quite possibly the most boring goal to come off a double digits passing buildup, but all that matters is it brought the score to 1-1.
The Men in Green kept the pressure up in the second half, there were many times when it looked like Guoan would get a winner, but it seemed chance after chance was directly at the keeper. Looks like Pacheco will need to have the team work on their shooting before Wednesday’s clash with Shenhua. One of the better chances fell to Robert, after a great run from Zhang Xizhe, but the Brazilian’s shot was just wide. Perhaps it’s all for the better, it would have made Roberto’s departure all the more difficult for all sides. The big Brazilian, already out of contract but staying in Beijing to help his side one final time, tried his heart out, but looked winded as the match passed the hour mark and was subbed out.
With so many regular starters out, the side had to turn to youth teamers. Roberto was replaced by Tan Tiancheng while Piao Cheng, a youngster himself, was replaced by Li Tixiang. For nearly the last 10 minutes, 6 of the 11 players on the pitch for the capital side were 23 or under. Beijing was unable to get a winner and once again, it was a 1-1 draw, their fourth straight.
In the end, a point away at Xian is not a bad result, fans there are some of the craziest in the league (as usual, they “snuck in” and taunted the Guoan fans during their kickabout the day before the match). That said, taken together with all the other recent results, it’s kind of disappointing. All that can be made better, though, Wednesday night in the China Derby against 9-1.