A hat-trick from Rafael Coelho and two goals from David gave R&F their biggest win of the season and pushed them up into second spot in the Chinese Super League. Changchun, for whom Lu Jianjun was sent off late on, got on the score sheet via a Li Zhe own goal but couldn’t halt R&F’s home momentum.
Contrary to the notes in last game’s programme, this match was played at Yuexiushan and not at Guangzhou University City Stadium. Pre-match rain caused more problems than usual for the pitch as both flanks became saturated which meant the ball held up completely. The rain didn’t stop both managers leading the warm-ups in their tracksuits though; no Marcello Lippi-esque smart casual here.
Nor did the continuing drizzle put R&F off as they opened the scoring after only 3 minutes. A breakaway saw Coelho racing away from the half-way line and the Argentine remained calm enough to chip the keeper and set the 5,000 fans, or at least those who had turned up on time, jumping up and down in celebration.
Coelho’s second was to come from a free kick. Liang Yanfeng floated a cross in and Li Zhe’s header hit the bar but was not cleared by Wang Wanpeng or keeper Zong Lei which allowed Royston Griffiths to head across the box to Coelho who met it with a superb scissors kick to double the lead. This was a real moment of quality from the Argentine who is certainly making an impact in his debut season in the Chinese Super League.
Changchun hit back immediately though as the R&F defence showed worrying echoes of the poor set piece defending against Guizhou last week. This time it was to be an own goal as R&F’s Zhang Yuan headed backwards and captain Li Zhe could only watch in horror as his reflex header beat keeper Cheng Yuelei.
The game settled down after this and following some controlled midfield play R&F’s next was to be the pick of the goals. The ball was worked out to right back Tang Miao who sent over an inch perfect cross that a diving David headed into the net.
Changchun could have folded after this goal just before half time but they came out for the second period in aggressive mood. They almost undid the Guangzhou side at their own game of counterattack play but keeper Cheng saved well from Changchun’s Liu Weidong.
The influential Brazilian David was again involved in the build up to the next goal but it was the head bandaged Zhang Yuan who provided the cross for Coelho to smash into the net to complete his first Chinese Super League hat trick.
The wet surface allowed several excellent sliding challenges but Changchun’s Lu Jianjun took this too far with his horrendous two footed lunge on Zhang Yuan that earned him a straight red, much to the R&F fans approval.
Man of the match Coelho was taken off to a standing ovation as Brazilian forward Leonardo came on to make his R&F debut. It was to be another Brazilian who would have the last word though as after pressing from Wu Weian, David intercepted a pass, sped past it’s intended recipient and bagged his second of the game and fifth of the season.
This win moves R&F up to second place heading into the early June break but Changchun slip to eighth. R&F manager Sergio Farias couldn’t be any happier with his side’s 100% home record but knows that his charges will have to improve their away performances to sustain this high league position.