Wednesday night was about next season for Beijing Guoan, but the picture it presented isn’t a comforting one for fans. After five months without an away win, Guoan fans were hoping this was going to be their chance to earn three points and go one step closer to securing an Asian Champions League position, it wasn’t meant to be.
Guoan came out looking strong in the opening minutes with big Keita as the lone striker almost scoring early, before heading in a Zhou Ting cross before many fans made it to their seats. This should have helped the young side gain some much needed confidence. However just 10 minutes later, Changchun was able to equalize with their own open header, a case of very loose defending.
The lineup for the Men in Green wasn’t the usual setup, manager Pacheco sitting Joel Griffiths and Walter Martinez, two players who are expected to leave in the offseason, and going with Keita and Francois Sena in their place. With Xu Liang out with a minor injury as well, it meant a young lineup all around. In the midfield, even with 30 year old Darko Matic, the average age of the 5 midfielders was 24. However it was Changchun’s youngster, Zhang Wenzhao who impressed, creating a lot of opportunities for his side and playing a role in both goals.
There were two controversial calls in the box on the night, in the first half, Piao Cheng was yellow carded for diving in the box. I like Piao, but he does tend to go down too easily, maybe its because he has some bad habits, maybe its because he’s just a skinny kid. On the play in question, there was most definitely contact with the defender, it didn’t rise to a penalty, but Piao’s yellow was harsh. In the other incident, Guoan got lucky, Sena committed a quite obvious handball in the box, knocking down a Changchun shot with his hand, but the referee failed to call it.
This rare bit of luck for the Beijingers seemed karmic, it was meant to be after all the missed calls Guoan’s not gotten over the course of this season， however that wasn’t the case. Guoan failed to get a winner, instead they were sunk by a 70th minute goal, their foreigner beating Sena to the ball (it seemed as if Sena slipped or at least misplayed the ball) and the third headed goal of the night, putting the home side up 2-1.
Guoan pushed for an equalizer, but didn’t come close again on the night. The three points put Changchun right in the middle of the race for a Champions League spot and also mean Beijing is far from locking up a spot, though beating Shenzhen this weekend will be a step in the right direction.