Friday night under the lights of Worker’s Stadium is quickly becoming a special time for Beijing Guoan fans, as their club once again came up victorious against a traditional rival, this time defeating Shandong Luneng 2-1. The win was all the more special as its the first over Shandong since 2007.
As expected, the match was a very physical affair, with a total of 7 cards being shown. The Hong Kong referee in charge of the match did a decent job keeping thing in order, though the second half got a bit out of hand as both teams started protesting almost every call.
Things didn’t start out so well for Guoan, in the 8th minute, a Shandong throw in deep in their offensive end was headed into the box by Han Peng, Gabriel Macina broke free of defender Zhang Xinxin and knocked it in giving the visitors an early lead. It didn’t take long for Guoan to respond, in the 15th minute, a Darko Matic pass was intercepted by a Shandong defender at the top of his box, the defender’s attempted clearance hit his teammate and fell to a wide open Reinaldo, who smoothly slotted it past the keeper for the equalizer.
Shandong did well to push forward in the first half, often through left winger Liu Binbin. The kid is only 18 and is already quality, running circles around Guoan defender Zhou Ting like few have. It was a foul on him that led to a great scoring attempt a little past the half hour mark when a Hao Junmin free kick was swung in and a Shandong player just barely missed getting on the end of it at the back post.
The first half ended all square at 1-1, but the show was only just getting started, the second half was even more exciting. Once again, Pacheco brought Mao Jianqing on early in the second half, this time only five minutes in, taking off Wang Changqing. Mao instantly transformed the game, his speed and power made a big difference as Beijing pushed forward for the winner.
However, it was Shandong who first came close to scoring. A Hao free kick found Macina in the middle, keeper Hou Sen did a good job to get a hand on his header and Xu Yunlong cleared it away. Now it was Guoan’s turn, a beautiful Zhou Ting cross found Piao Cheng all alone just outside the 6-yard box, the youngster did a good job of striking it out of the air, but his shot was too close to the keeper.
The controversy was about to begin. Zhang Xizhe played a nice ball to Reinaldo, who was very obviously pulled down by Wang Qiang. It should have been an obvious penalty, but the referee wasn’t having it. Moments later it was history repeating, a Zhang ball to Reinaldo, who went down after contact with Wang. Though this time it wasn’t quite an obvious penalty, I think the referee gave it because 1. he knew he missed the more obvious one moments before, and 2. he realized if he didn’t give it, he was going to have a hard time getting out of Gongti.
Piao Cheng was given the chance to take the penalty, but it wasn’t very well taken and the keeper was able to knock it away. Fortunately for Guoan, he knocked it right into the path of Xu Liang who put it through the keeper’s legs to put Guoan ahead.
From there it was pretty much all Guoan for the matches final 20 minutes. Yuan Weiwei received his second yellow in the 72nd minute for a hard two footed challenge and Luneng was now down a goal and a man. Guoan continued to push forward and it looked like they’d get a third, especially in the 80th minute when Zhou Ting found himself in space, but his shot was well wide of the target.
Shandong mounted one final attack, with Brazilian Obina trying for a repeat of his late equalizer at Worker’s Stadium last year. This time around, he was more tightly covered and his shot from an ackward angle was batted away by Hou Sen.
It was a much needed win for Guoan, who, at least for the time being, move into third place. Winning at home hasn’t been a problem, it’s been on the road where they struggled, and they now go away to Tokyo in the ACL on Tuesday, then to Shenyang over the weekend.