Shen Xiangfu’s homecoming to Worker’s Stadium on Saturday night couldn’t have been much worse, his team was crushed by a Beijing Guoan side that came alive, they lost ground on an Asian Champions League spot, and they
should may be losing a player for the rest of the season due to an inappropriate gesture toward the Guoan fans.
However if you’re a Beijinger, you’re happy to finally see your side take apart a top team and that they look in top form as they go away to Shandong in the CFA Cup semifinal on Wednesday and then head to Tianjin over the weekend. It no doubt helped having a happy Jamie Pacheco on the Guoan sidelines after he signed the most lucrative coaching contract in Chinese football this past week, extending his stay in the capital another few years. Pacheco has been a positive force of change in Beijing this year and he’s gotten the most out of the players he has, I think I can speak for all Guoan fans in saying we’re happy this piece of business was finally taken care of.
Perhaps it was his being left of the national team that spurred on Wang Xiaolong, but even in the opening minutes of the match, he was uniquely prepared for this one. When a beautifully taken Xu Liang free kick was quashed by Walter Martinez being pushed in the back and the Men in Green were awarded a penalty, Wang stepped up and buried it. Changchun, on the other hand, seemed very angry on the night, after the penalty kick was awarded, a number of players got in the referee’s face and after it was converted, a scrum occurred around the referee and Wang Dong (who committed the original foul) bumped him, luckily not receiving a second yellow. Another melee occurred moments later when Xu Yunlong went down after taking an inadvertant hand to the face, it was on, at least in the eyes of the Changchun players.
Changchun turned the anger into motivation and picked up an equalizer off a corner kick, Martinez slid to save the ball from crossing the line, but it was a rebound goal for Changchun’s Brazilian, Dori. During the celebrations, the anger came out in a negative way as defender Wang Wanpeng chose to provoke the hardcore Beijing supporters in the north stand by showing them the finger.
But Wang wasn’t going to take it and he must have been hoping Camacho was watching because he showed what a skilled player he is when he decided to go it alone, making a great run and topping it off with a beautiful shot. This washed out the Changchun equalizer, putting Guoan up one heading into the locker room for the half. In the second half it was more of the same, a mishit header fell to Joel Griffiths who knocked it in to put Guoan up 3-1 in the 60th minute while the Changchun players were still hell bent on ganging up on the referee.
If they wanted to blame him for two of Guoan’s three goals, there was nobody but themselves to blame for the final goal, after Changchun defender Jiang Pengxiang added to Beijing’s tally by knocking a Wang Xiaolong pass past his own keeper. By then the match was already in the 80th minute and well out of the reach of Shen Xiangfu’s charges.
For Beijing, the win was absolutely critical, with only three games remaining, the 8 point gap they opened up mean it will be almost impossible for them to be overtaken and will guarantee an Asian spot. For some players, like Martinez, who are almost definitely headed out in the close season, this was one of the final chances to play at Gongti and was therefore special.
With the work in the league done, now Guoan needs to be focused on the Cup, the next step will be getting past Shandong and giving Guoan fans the joy of a cup final.