Beijing Guoan ended their string of Friday night home games remaining undefeated at home in the league after a workmanlike 1-0 victory over Dalian Aerbin. The win, and Guangzhou Evergrande’s draw, means Guoan is only two points behind the league leaders going into the break.
While the midfield and defense have all but been set, Pacheco has struggled with deciding to use Reinaldo or Andrija Kaluđerović up front, though Reinaldo has been his preferred choice for much of the year and once again was in the starting lineup. Guoan’s success up to this point is made all the more shocking in that they are one of the very few teams who don’t use the maximum number of foreigners in their starting lineup, instead only using two (one of the two strikers and Darko Matic).
The difference in the match was a beautiful Xu Liang ball played perfectly to Wang Xiaolong, who slotted it past the keeper to give Guoan a 1-0 lead in the 25st minute, all the home side needed to secure all three points. The quality of Xu’s ball is all the more frustrating because it shows that when he wants to, Xu can be an excellent creator capable of great plays, but more often than not this season, he hasn’t wanted to.
It was a rough night for Aerbin star Yu Dabao, who was constantly well marked by the Guoan defense and found it hard to get into any open space, at one point after one of his many dives on the night, he was completely ignored by his own teammates who seemed frustrated with the young star’s act (or perhaps that he’s on triple what they’re all making).
In the dying minutes, Piao Cheng had an excellent chance to make it 2-0, making yours truly once again right on in his prediction (a 2-0 victory with Piao scoring), but his shot was slightly off target. It didn’t matter though, Beijing had all three points and a sixth straight league home win meaning they go into the break on a high. The club that not much was expected of is now only a good foreign pickup away from being a serious challenger to Guangzhou.