Beijing Guoan is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and we’re here to celebrate 20 of the most important moments over the past 20 years. Not all of these are positive, but all of them shaped the history of the club and the league. Considering who Guoan’s opponent is this week, it’s very easy to come up with the appropriate moment to start the series with.
It’s July 1997, Guoan had gotten off to a great start to open the season, losing only one match, before going away to Dalian, the eventual title winners, and getting creamed 5-1, with Hao Haidong scoring a hat trick. It was a dejected Guoan side that returned home to Gongti a week later to host Shanghai Shenhua in the China Derby, a rivalry as intense back then as it is now, perhaps more so due to the newness of it all and the intense fan interest the league had in its opening few seasons.
With the frustration of the Dalian match fresh in the minds of the players, they went into the match against Shenhua pumped up and came out flying. Guoan dominated the chances and got on the board in the 15th minute through Andres Olivas Rubio, the team’s Spanish star. Chinese teammate Cao Xiandong quickly followed it up a few minutes later to give the home side a 2-0 lead. The game was still pretty competitive when Wu Chengying pulled one back for Shenhua in the 27th minute, making it an exciting 2-1 affair.
The Shenhua goal only served to enliven the Guoan players when the club’s Paraguyan pair Casiano Delvalle and Jorge Luis Campos put their onw names on the scoring sheet, Casiano scoring in the 31st minute and Campos netting a pair in the 36th and 45th minute (the latter a penalty kick). The Beijingers went into the locker room at the half with a commanding 5-1 lead. This wouldn’t make up for the dropped points against Dalian the week before, but it was quickly becoming a very memorable night for the fans in attendance.
Guoan’s foreigners were utterly dominant and Casiano was the first to score another, this time in the 61st minute. Campos would score again, but sandwiched in between, Andres would score twice, in the 71st and 75th minutes, to complete his hat trick. The 81st minute saw Campos score the final goal of the night and earn his own hat trick.
It was a night of magic, with Guoan firing on all cylinders and earning a victory that lives on today in the lore surronding the club. In the end, Shenhua would get the last laugh, defeating Guoan 2-1 at Hongkou later in the year and ultimately finishing above Guoan in the table, runners up to Dalian (with Guoan in third place). In the end though, nobody cares who finished second or third, but Beijingers, especially those at Gongti that night, will never forget 9-1!