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Pacheco plays it defensively, gets Guoan into ACL with draw at Jiangsu

In the penultimate match of the 2012 season, Beijing Guoan did just enough to earn a point after a scoreless draw against Jiangsu Sainty and, with the help of the rest of the league, lock up third place.  The atmosphere at Nanjing Olympic Stadium was festive, as if Jiangsu fans realized they weren’t fated to win the title and just wanted to come out to party. Before the match, their fans even came over to the visitors end, typically a move meant to menace the travelling fans, but the locals were just looking to exchange scarves or tops with the Guoan supporters.

Pumped up by the massive crowd, the home side came out pumped from the start, with a number of close calls in the opening 10 minutes. On the other hand, Guoan fielded a defensive squad that was also meant to deal with Nanjing’s height. That plan wasn’t very successful as Jiangsu threatened early and often in the first half off set pieces. On multiple occassions, Jiangsu headers caught Yang Zhi flat footed, but were denied by the posts or crossbar. At the other end of the pitch, the capital side failed to mount much along the lines of a dangerous counterattack and were incredibly lucky to go into the locker room at the end of the first half with the game still tied.

The second half was slightly better for the capital side, producing a few chances, but they still needed a top performance from Yang Zhi to keep the scoreline level. Guoan’s best chance of the half came off a Joffre Guerron run, he knocked it in which led to big celebrations among the away supporters, but was adjudged to be offside. A (soft) second yellow for Jiangsu defender Eleilson, whose sliding tackle stopped Wang Changqing on the counterattack, saw Sainty go down to 10 men and perked up Guoan, who began attacking more. However, it was still the home team who had the best chances, in the 84th minute a Ji Xiang free kick was just barely kept out by Yang Zhi. Jiangsu fans may be of a different opinion, but it seems clear the ball didn’t fully cross the goal line. More danger came moments later when Alexsander Jevtic found himself free in space, and tried to lob the charging Yang, though fortunately for Guoan the shot rolled harmlessly wide. A pretty boring 0-0 affair, but a result that was unlikely to surprise anyone.

With a multitude of other results going Guoan’s way, the point was enough to see them secure third place and an Asian Champions League spot. For Jiangsu fans, their narrow title hopes were dashed, but few were angry as their side far exceeded expectations and the crowd stayed around to enjoy the post-match concert.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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