Two first half goals propelled Guangzhou R&F to a 2 – 1 victory over Henan Construction in possibly their last game at Yuexiushan stadium. Inform foreign stars Rafael Coelho and David both scored before Bi Jinhao replied for the visitors.
After a 4 – 2 away defeat to mid-table Shanghai Shenxin, R&F were able to welcome back midfielder Jumar from suspension and centre back Xu Bo from injury and both helped to solidify the defence.
The attacking play from the end of the Shenxin match continued as within a minute the Argentine Coelho fed David who placed his effort just wide. A Henan side depleted through injury almost made R&F pay for this from a set piece after a face masked Zhang Lu had been hauled down. Zhao Peng rose highest but his header was blocked by Cheng Yuelei in the R&F goal and the defence recovered in time to hack the ball to safety before a Henan player could get to the rebound.
R&F did score from a set piece though. The ball was worked out to Liu Cheng on the left-wing who sent in a cross that, just like last week, Coelho beat his markers’ to and headed superbly into the net.
R&F were able to dominate Henan for large periods in a way that they have not been able to against other sides with David and Coelho both impressing. The latter almost doubled the lead after 38 minutes but somehow managed to hook Tang Miao’s cross wide when it seemed easier to score than to miss.
Shortly after this R&F were able to extend their lead. After a rapid counterattack, David made a reverse pass to Coelho who in turn played a through ball to Zhang Yuan rushing into the channel. After beating Zhao Peng, Zhang squared it and the Brazilian David provided the finish.
It was to stay 2 – 0 at the break as Henan’s Bi Jinhao blasted over from the corner of the six yard box on the stroke of half time. Henan noticeably improved in the second half and both Jumar and Royston Griffiths were called upon more often to break up their attacks. The men from Zhengzhou had a strong claim for a penalty turned down when it appeared that a diving Xu Bo had used his arm to block Huang Xiyang’s shot inside the penalty area.
Henan did get on the scoreboard though after a well taken goal. R&F’s right back Tang Miao was off the pitch because he had just received treatment which left a hole in the defence that Coelho was too slow to fill. Zhang Yuan exploited the open space and his cross found an unmarked Bi at the back post who scored to make it 2 – 1. The goal woke up the travelling Henan fans, the R&F fans responded and with the floodlights flickering into life the atmosphere really went up a notch.
Henan continued to search for an equaliser and Tunisian left back Enis Hajri was a constant threat and ended up playing a supporting role for the strikers but it was Huang Xiyang’s 25 yard daisy cutter that gave them their next shot on target.
Being on the defensive gave R&F’s more opportunity to use their favourite strategy of playing on the counter and substitute Wu Weian had two great chances to score within 4 minutes of coming on. Henan were to have the last chance with a ninety fourth minute free kick but keeper Zhou Yajun could not direct his header on target to the relief of his opposite number and the 5000 or so inside Yuexiushan.
R&F have a 100% record over 6 home games so will be reluctant to leave Yuexiushan but can take great comfort from the fact that they are doing so whilst second in the table in their debut season in the Chinese Super League, only one point behind leaders and city rivals Guangzhou Hengda.