After having gone toe-to-toe with Guangzhou Evergrande last weekend, Beijing Guoan returned home to face off against Guangzhou R&F Saturday night and managed to pull off a 1-0 victory in a very tight match.
With Evergrande having drawn the night before, both teams were looking forward to the rare chance to gain ground on the league leaders as well as ending their own winless streaks. R&F has had a hard time all year on the road and those struggles continued Saturday night as they struggled to mount a challenge against Guoan. Neither team had any of their new signings in the starting 11, but Guoan’s Joffre Guerron was on the bench for this one. The home side once again started out with its new, no striker lineup, using Mao Jianqing, Shao Jiayi, and Piao Cheng to attack.
A bit of controversy early on, a mazy run by Wang Xiaolong ended with him being fouled in the 15th minute, it looked pretty straightforward that the foul took place in the box, but a free kick was given just outside of it. The proceeding free kick, taken by Xu Liang, hit the wall and bounced to Wang, whose shot was just over the bar.
R&F had their own threatening moments in the first half, a nice passing sequence saw Zhang Yuan, formerly a Beijing youth teamer, free on Hou Sen, but the youngster skied his shot. It was R&F’s best chance of the half, a 45 minutes plagued by off-target shooting. Just after the hour mark, Guoan brought on Guerron and Andrija Kaluđerović coming on for Mao Jianqing and Zhang Xinxin.
Guoan finally got themselves a goal in the 64th minute, a good Xu Liang ball found Wang on a good run, his faints and dekes caught his defender off balance allowing Wang to find the room to lift a ball across the box for a wide open Shao Jiayi, who headed it in. Worker’s Stadium erupted and it felt only proper that on the same day Guoan fans were treated to the news of Huang Bowen going to Evergrande, Shao Jiayi, a hero who kept his word, would score for the Men in Green.
From there it was just a matter of holding onto the lead and R&F never really looked dangerous again, a long shot here, an attack that got stopped there. Guoan fans, however, were treated to a moment of excitement when newboy Guerron showed off his skill and ball control on a fine run.
Three more points for Guoan in what was an impressive performance, once again doing enough (if only just enough) to win, but also shutting down the other side, keeping R&F to only a single shot on target. For R&F, its four without a victory and a struggle that has seen them descend to sixth place.