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View from the North: Tianjin 0 – 1 Beijing

#¥)*%##—¥! Oh wait, this is my own blog, I can swear if I want…FUCK! Yang Zhi has failed to stop a penalty kick all year long. The CFA Cup semifinal went to penalties on Wednesday night and when Beijing Guoan desperately needed Yang to save a penalty, he couldn’t. Of course the logic of the soccer gods means that in a meaningless game a few days later, Yang stopped his first penalty of the year, securing all three points for Guoan.

It was a tough week for both sides going into Saturday night’s match. For Guoan, they were coming off the aforementioned defeat in the CFA Cup, a tough loss that also saw their manager suspended for multiple matches. With no hope of a trophy this year, Saturday was just about playing out the schedule for the Men in Green. Tianjin, on the other hand, should have come into the game overjoyed after winning their CFA Cup semifinal midweek, however the joy was dampened down because the side’s manager, Arie Haan, announced that he’d be leaving Teda at the end of the season.

fighting in the crowd

A small scuffle in the crowd with Tianjin fans attempting to attack the few Beijingers who made the trip.

This was not a well played match for either side, while one would expect a bit of emotion in a derby match like this, for the most part the players were pretty reserved and if there was any hatred between them, they kept it hidden well. Tianjin did a good job controlling the ball for much of the first half and had the best chance of the game when they beat Guoan’s offside trap and Yang Zhi was stuck in no man’s land. Fortunately, it was Zhou Ting to the rescue, clearing the ball off the goalline and keeping the match scoreless.

Joel Griffiths’ second half didn’t start so well, a few missed chances and a foot to the head when Tianjin defender Marco Zoric lashed out after the two got tied up, only getting a yellow card. The match got a lot better for him, though, in the 75th minute a Francois Sene ball freed up Griffiths who left Zoric off balance and put a shot past the keeper to give Guoan the lead.

The single goal looked like it was going to be enough yet Tianjin did all it could to dive all over the place in the final minutes in hopes of earning a penalty. They got (a very, very soft) one in the final few seconds of extra time. The penalty led to much debate among Guoan players with 7 minutes of debate between the referee and the players. When Marius Bilasco finally stepped up to take the penalty, the soccer gods came to the rescue (along with Yang Zhi), denying Tianjin the unjustified goal. Three more points for Guoan and they now have wrapped up an Asian Champions League position, the last minute penalty save made one forget what was otherwise a boring JingJin derby.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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