Jiangsu Sainty faced off against Chinese Super League juggernaut Guangzhou Evergrande last Saturday afternoon in Nanjing. With the league title already in their possession Guangzhou seemed ready to squash the Asian Champions League hopes of Jiangsu, but the home side used an offensive onslaught to jump out to a 4-0 lead and would hold on for an impressive 5-2 win.
Now that the summer is officially over and the fall, which we say in Nanjing tends to only last a week or so, has begun the 7:30pm matches have been replaced with a 3:30pm start time. This doesn’t bode well with me because I work during the afternoon on the weekends meaning I wasn’t actually able to watch this match live. To make matters worse the quality of the online highlight reel has gone from acceptable to downright rubbish. I’m not sure why they changed the format of the highlights but this is the Chinese Super League we’re talking about so reason isn’t always part of the equation.
Despite not watching this match live there are some obvious things that stick out, with the first being the score line. Jiangsu 5, Guangzhou 2. When I originally saw this score I immediately thought it was some sort of mistake. How could Jiangsu give such a serious beat down to the powerhouse that is Guangzhou? While not as shocking as the 6-1 score line from the Manchester Derby I’m willing to bet the majority of people didn’t see this result coming.
The most goals given up by Guangzhou all season prior to this match was two. Guangzhou’s only loss on the season came in a 2-1 loss to Changchun. With that said what does this resounding victory mean? For starters it means Jiangsu is tough to beat at home. In their last 11-home games Jiangsu has gone an outstanding 10-0-1 (WLD), with the one draw in a 2-2 match against Tianjin when they visitors tied things up in the final minute of the game. Could Guangzhou be taking their foot off the pedal? Definitely a possibility. With the league title virtually wrapped up months ago there really isn’t anything else for Guangzhou to play for. Regardless of their motives the result cannot be dismissed and I’m sure the Guangzhou players and fans will be looking forward to some revenge come next season, or possibly in the Asian Champions League (hey, a guy can dream right?).
As the Jiangsu faithful have witnessed all season, the goal scoring began with the one-two punch of Cristian Dănălache and Aleksandar Jevtić. In the 19th minute Dănălache controlled the ball at the top of the box and sent a pass between two defenders to an open, but possibly offsides, Jevtić who was able to slide the ball past the keeper.
In the 45th minute a long ball came down to Dănălache who was standing at the penalty spot with a defender breathing down his neck. As he controlled the ball with his chest the Guangzhou players appealed for a handball but the ref didn’t agree and Dănălache got a shot off, although it went directly into a defender. Luckily the rebound went straight to a wide open Sun Ke whose shot deflected off a defender and into the back of the net.
Dănălache decided it was his turn to get on the scorers sheet in the 48th minute when a poor header by Guangzhou defender Paulão sent the ball directly to Dănălache. Showing a stroke of brilliance Dănălache ran between two defenders and kneed the ball up and then headed it out in front where he blasted the ball into the side of the goal for a 3-0 lead. Volleys and bicycle kicks make all the highlights but goals like Dănălache’s goal are truly a wonder to behold.
Just four minutes later Guangzhou would find themselves in hot water when captain Zheng Zhi was sent off for a foul on Jevtić in the box. When watching the replay it’s very difficult to see the actual foul. It looked like Zheng Zhi was holding Jevtić’s arm, but other than that there didn’t appear to be much contact. Regardless the penalty was awarded and Dănălache displayed nerves of steel as his shot went right down the middle while the Guangzhou keeper dived to his right.
The 4-0 lead would hold up until the 80th minute when a handball in the area gave Guangzhou a penalty of their own. Brazilian striker Muriqui trotted up to the spot and made no mistake as he shot it into the upper corner to cut into Jiangsu’s lead. A mere two minutes later Muriqui would score again in an almost comical play where he dribbled in and out of four Jiangsu defenders who were unable to dispossess the crafty Brazilian. After eluding roughly a third of the Jiangsu team Muriqui shot the ball past Jiangsu’s keeper Deng Xiaofei.
With the lead down to two things were getting a little too close for the home fans. Luckily late substitute Paolo de la Haza would seal the deal with a goal in the 86th minute. After a breakaway Dănălache passed the ball over to de la Haza and with only the keeper to beat de la Haza dribbled around the keepers outstreached arms and chipped the ball into the opposite corner of the goal.
The final result is a massive boost of confidence for Jiangsu who cling to hope of earning the final Asian Champions League spot. Even if things don’t pan out for Jiangsu this match will be one to remember for all those in attendance, and even those who weren’t lucky enough to witness it in person.