It was a party atmosphere at Gongti yesterday for the final match of the year, mostly a going away party for the likes of Walter Martinez (and possibly Joel Griffiths). Unfortunately the visitors, Shaanxi Chanba spoiled the party and ruined what would have been a great result by scoring a late winner.
Guoan was set on an attacking style of football last night and was somewhat weak at the back, Shaanxi took advantage when Yu Hai beat Zhou Ting down the wing and centered it, a weird bounce saw the ball fall to Qu Bo who made quick work of it and opened up scoring on the night. The visitors were able to maintain the lead into the half.
Down by one in the second half, Guoan was going all out hoping to get one final win for the fans. A Martinez passc freed up Joel Griffiths who was taken down in the box by a beaten Sun Jihai for a penalty. At first it looked like Xu Liang was going to take it, to the horror of the fans, however in a move applauded by all, Yang Zhi was given the chance. Earlier in the year when Guoan creamed Nanchang 6-1 in the CFA Cup, there were chants for Yang to score a goal, so giving him this penalty really pumped up the fans. Yang missed, but Wang Xiaolong made easy work of the rebound to get the equalizer.While Guoan controlled the opportunities and continued to make offensive substitutions, Shaanxi went ahead again thanks to an exceptionally beautiful strike from Qu Bo. From there Shaanxi started all the typical bullshit Chinese Super League time wasting measures but to no avail, a long ball was played into the box by Xu Yunlong and Walter Martinez got to it first (despite Shaanxi’s protesting), heading it past the keeper.
It would have been a storybook ending for Martinez in his last match at Worker’s Stadium, an 88th minute equalizer, the goal celebration was special, but the match wasn’t over. After Shaanxi spent five minutes arguing with the referee about the goal, the game finally was restarted. In the end, the high of the Martinez goal was crushed by horrible defensive coverage on a 95th minute free kick, allowing Dino Dulbic a free header which he knocked in, giving Shaanxi its first win under Gao Hongbo (former national team manager and Guoan star).
A tough loss for Guoan, though they already have second place and an ACL spot wrapped up. Once again, Guoan failed to come back from behind to get a win, plus they gave up a late goal. That said, the day was meant for the fans and the manager’s decisions showed that. After, a ceremony was held where the players showed their respect for the fans and said goodbye as yet another season comes to an end.