Marcello Lippi made his debut as Guangzhou Evergrande manager only days after being named to the position and thanks to a late free kick goal, his side came away with all three points.
There was a lot of turmoil around Evergrande this past week with their last minute victory in the Asian Champions League and then the firing of their manager the next day. Fortunately for Guangzhou, the first match for Lippi was against bottom of the table Qingdao Jonoon. The Qingdao side played the role of patsies very well, failing to put up much of a fight and only taking 3 shots on goals to Evergrande’s 16.
The match was as one sided as the statistics show and from the start Evergrande was on all out attack mode, with the vast majority of chances coming from Cleo and Conca, who was in the lineup despite his supposed nine game suspension (I guess a new manager changes all that). Yet even with all their pressure on the Qingdao goal, the seasiders were able to maintain their defense and keep the hosts off the board.
Despite their best efforts, it was a free kick that finally provided Guangzhou’s winner. In the 69th minute, Sun Xiang delivered a beautiful free kick into the box. The delivery and pace was perfect and the keeper dove to save it, though his efforts were for naught due to a leaping Gao Lin who got his head on it and redirected it for his first Chinese Super League goal of 2012.
After the match, the team had nothing but good things to say about Lippi and the new attitude he’s instilled in the side. With a number of tough matches on the horizon, Evergrande won’t always be able to play on cruise control like they did Sunday, but it pops Lippi’s cherry in China and maintains the Cantonese club’s four point lead at the top of the table.