It was the story of two sides at opposite ends of the table last night in Jinan as Guangzhou Evergrande and Shandong Luneng faced off, but in the end both teams had to satisfy themselves with a point as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Things started out well for Lippi’s side, in the opening minutes Zhang Linpeng found himself with the ball in the box and took a hard shot from an odd angle that got past the keeper. It was not the kind of goal that young keeper Geng Xiaofeng should have given up, the young keeper has struggled all year, which makes it even more shocking that national team manager Camacho has him in the side.
Shandong wasn’t without chances in the first half, there was a controversial yellow card shown to youngster Liu Binbin for diving, though it looked like there was enough contact on the play. Just before the half, Liu Wei picked out Hao Junmin, who broke through Evergrande’s offside trap, but keeper Yang Jun was up to the task.
Lippi was resting some of the usual starters, but quickly made some changes in the first ten minutes of the second half, bringing on Zheng Zhi and Memet Ali for Feng Junyan and Cleo. He also brought Conca on in the 67th minute, but not much came from these changes and the match remained a pitched battle in the midfield. Evergrande dominated the chances, but never created anything very dangerous.
With the match still wide open and Shandong coming closer and closer to getting the equalizer, it would finally come in the 84th minute, a beautiful shot from Wang Yongpo that secured a point for the home side.
If Lippi wants to continue being lavished with gifts like a boat and a large, private villa in Guangzhou, he’s going to need to find a way to win. Evergrande have looked far from great in his first two matches, he has the break to get the team motivated again and he’ll need it, things don’t get easier for the league leaders and two clubs are nipping at their heels, two points back.