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View from the North: Captain Xu carries Beijing to victory

Beijing Guoan once again finds themselves victorious on a Friday night at Worker’s Stadium after dispatching Shanghai Shenxin 1-0 on the back of a controversial goal. The win continues Guoan’s home streak, having won all four matches played in Beijing so far this season.

As discussed in the preview, it was obvious that this was going to be a tight, defensive game, with Shenxin on the defensive for most the match, and that’s exactly how it worked out, with Guoan controlling the pace of the game and keeping possession for 55% of the match and Shenxin only taking 3 shots. It was obvious the visitors didn’t come to the capital to play offense, but it was still an embarrassing display of crappy football.

The first half was a bit of a snoozefest, Guoan came out red hot, with a number of chances in the first 15 minutes, and then the match pretty much ground to a halt. All of the attacks started from the wingbacks, with Zhou Ting putting in an especially solid performance. Both Zhang Xinxin and Zhou played good crosses to Manu early, in the 3rd and 12th minute respectively. The first one Manu couldn’t get a boot on, the second one he only just touched, knocking it wide. In between these two plays, Zhou went on a great individual run, but his shot was just outside the right post.

Early in the second half, Guoan was once again on the attack, a great ball played to Reinaldo in the box, he knocked it on to Manu on the right, who played a great high ball to Piao Cheng. The small Piao attempted a diving header, but a Shanghai defender go to it first, knocking it out of bounds for a corner kick.

Guoan’s goal came off the corner kick, a nice effort by Xu Liang that found Xu Yunlong on the back post for a header. A Shenxin defender cleared it off the line, but it was too late, the goal was given. It was a controversial call to say the least, I’ve watched the video a number of times and it doesn’t really look like the entire ball crossed the line, though a photo is floating around weibo showing that it did. I was angry about the goal that wasn’t given in Hangzhou, later it was (rightfully) determined to be a goal, so its only karmic that this one was given. Unfair to Shanghai, of course, but it’s a long season, sometimes calls go your way, sometimes they don’t.

Shenxin had their best chance of the game within minutes of the goal, ironically also on a corner kick. Midfielder Zhu Jiawei found himself left all alone, but his wide open header was well wide of the target. It was the best, quite possibly the only, chance the visitors had all night.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was an important three points for the capital side, who host Ulsan Hyundai in a (meaningless) ACL match on Wednesday before travelling to Zhengzhou over the weekend.

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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