It’s been a depressingly long time since Guoan supporters were able to celebrate a victory, the last one coming at Worker’s Stadium against Jiangsu. Saturday night the club got back into the win column and picked up 2 points on first place Guangzhou (though they still have a 9 point lead) after beating Nanchang 1-0 in a ho hum, boring win.
Then again, a win is a win. On Saturday the capital side suffered from what has been an increasingly common problem for them this year, blown opportunities. Guoan broke through when Joel Griffiths made a run down the right flank and centered to Wang Changqing, who was getting a rare start. Wang did well with the bouncing cross and put it just past the keeper to open the scoring in the 25th minute.
Though Nanchang has hovered around the bottom of the table all year, they did their best to give Guoan one hell of a fight, but Yang Zhi was up to the task time and again. The visitors’ best scoring opportunity was off a good header, Yang managed to get a hand on it and then kick it away, showing why he’s China’s number 1. They added to the pressure in the second half with a few additional scoring opportunities, but nothing that truly threatened Yang.
At the other end, Guoan had no problems creating chances, but kept failing to finish them off. Zhang Xizhe had two or three gimmie chances that he fired right into the keeper’s chest, Martinez, who started the season on a huge roll, has had trouble finding the net in the second half of the season, and Joel Griffiths came up short on a chance or two of his own. Piao Cheng has brought some excitement to the team’s midfield this year, but he seems hesitant to shoot, instead passing in almost every circumstance or having his back to the goal too often.
Keita is quickly becoming a dilemma for the manager. Keita came in at the midseason transfer window and replaced Roberto, who despite not getting a lot of playing time, was regularly able to score. His replacement, Keita, has looked impressive at times and has the body to be dominant in the league, but so far he hasn’t been able to produce much. More playing time could be helpful for the big man, but its tough finding room for him in an already tight squad.
It’s a short training week as Guoan will host Chengdu Wednesday night at Gongti, should be another three points for the team and hopefully they will be able to put together a bit more impressive display of football.