Chinese Super League newboys Guangzhou Fuli preserved their 100% home record by beating 10 man Hangzhou Greentown 1 – 0. After a fairly even first period Fuli hit the front with a penalty just after half-time and then Hangzhou had Fabricio sent off.
The pre-game atmosphere was nowhere near as good as before the Guangzhou derby, partly because only about 20 Hangzhou fans had made the trip South and partly because of the bizarre habit of Fuli fans of turning up 20 minutes late to a Sunday afternoon kick-off.
Thankfully the start of the match improved the muted atmosphere in the stands. Fuli almost scored after 6 minutes when Xu Bo had a header saved on the line and then Hangzhou’s Wang Song struck the post shortly after. The half ebbed and flowed with both teams having spells of pressure. Hangzhou’s came around the half-hour mark when Renatinho hit the angle of the post and bar and Fuli keeper Cheng Yuelei was drawn into several saves. Fuli’s best period came later on when a Lu Lin freekick landed on the roof of the net and Coelho saw his header from a Lu corner headed off the line. A lot of the Fuli play came down the left side but winger Lu Lin failed to make the most of several opportunities despite his set piece prowess.
The first five minutes of the second half were to contain the two moments which would define the game. First, after some scrappy play on the edge of the Hangzhou box, the superb David poked the ball through to Lu Lin who ran towards goal. Despite the presence of covering defenders, keeper Jiang Bo came off his line and Lu saw this, played for a penalty and was rewarded when Jiang Bo felled him. David stepped up and calmly slotted the kick to make it 1 – 0 to Fuli.
The second moment arrived shortly afterwards when Hangzhou’s Fabricio was sent off for kicking High Zengxiang when both players were on the floor after a tackle. The game completely changed after this as Fuli used their man advantage to take control of possession and the bulk of the play. Hangzhou still had chances but, as in their previous two home games, Fuli were threatening on the break with David and Lu both wasting good chances whilst sub Wu Wei’an poked just wide after a cross from hard working striker Zhang Shuo.
Throughout the game captain Li Zhe had been commanding in the air for Fuli but they suffered from several defensive lapses that gave Hangzhou chances to level the score, none of which they capitalised on. Fuli also allowed the ball to be loose in their own box on too many occasions and almost paid dearly for this when Wang Song burst through the defence, the ball wasn’t cleared and Xu Bo had to throw his body in the way of a last gasp attempted equaliser.
Early season it may be but Sergio Farias will be delighted that his Fuli side are top of the Chinese Super League on the back of three good home wins. This was a better performance than in the win against Evergrande too and hopefully, now that the CBA is over, this news will filter through to the Guangzhou public and result in some larger crowds at Yuexiushan stadium.