Qingdao Jonoon 3-2 Guangzhou R&F
CSL Round 29
Bruno Meneghel 24’, Zheng Long 38’ and 87′; Yakubu 45’, Sui Donglu 84’
Qingdao Jonoon preserved their CSL status for another year with a 3-2 home win against Guangzhou R&F, a result which leaves the Cantonese side relying on lady luck to compete outside the CSL next year as ACL qualification is now out of their hands. In a game full of talking points, third choice centre back Sui Donglu looked like he’d earned a point for R&F with an 84th minute equaliser but Bruno Meneghel’s pass to Zheng Long allowed the Qingdao midfielder to score and earn all three points for the seasiders.
Qingdao were all but mathematically safe from relegation going into this game and knew a win would extend their proud record of never having played outside the CSL since its formation. At the other end of the table, R&F were desperate for the win to keep alive their ACL hopes. However, with three of their foreign midfielders injured along with the Chinese Li Yan, R&F were again forced to start defender Liu Cheng in central midfield. This week his partner was Liang Yanfeng who scored as a substitute in last week’s home loss to Dalian Aerbin. First choice centre back Xu Bo was again suspended and Sui Donglu started in his place. Qingdao had the solid Nigerian Gabriel Melkam at the back but for the second week running it would be a Brazilian who undid R&F, Dalian Aerbin’s Rochemback was the tormentor last week and this time the role fell to Bruno Meneghel.
The opening exchanges were more stop than start as the referee constantly whistled for infringements. After 15 minutes he again blew his whistle as Bruno Meneghel tumbled in the box and the home crowd roared. The roars soon turned to jeers though as the referee gave Meneghel a yellow card for diving.
5 minutes later the diving Meneghel again hit the floor in the penalty area but this time the referee saw things differently and pointed to the spot. It was a controversial call and it looks like he dived again but the video has a couple of replays so you can judge for yourself. Any debate was over though when Meneghel slammed the penalty in to give Qingdao the lead.
The Brazilian was again the centre of attention shortly afterwards as he headed in a free kick only to see his goal disallowed for offside, perhaps harshly. Qingdao didn’t have long to wait before they doubled their lead though as Zheng Long beat the offside trap and then keeper Cheng Yuelei at his near post with a shot from the edge of the box.
R&F had struggled to create any chances but did pull one back before half time courtesy of Yakubu. A superb series of passes between him and Davi, the only two foreigners playing for R&F on the day, allowed the Nigerian to sweep home the best goal of the game and notch his ninth league goal since arriving in July.
Needing to score again to stay in with a chance of ACL football next year, the Cantonese side started the second half very brightly and had a series of corners but couldn’t convert them. Qingdao came back into it and the game opened up although there were few clear-cut chances for either side. Yakubu looked increasingly isolated in the lone striker role and an opportunistic thirty yard volley by substitute Lu Lin was one of R&F’s best efforts in this period.
The final 10 minutes saw Guangzhou pile on the pressure again but Liang Yanfeng’s back post shot from a corner was sliced wide of the post. A later free kick produced an effort which was cleared off the line and the ball was worked out to Yu Guijun whose cross was headed down and in at the back post by Sui Donglu to level the match with six minutes left.
R&F pushed on looking for the winner but it was to be the seasiders who claimed all three points. The ball broke to Zheng Long in midfield, his long ball found Meneghel and Zheng sprinted from inside his own half to beat Liu Cheng to the Brazilian’s pass and then squeezed the ball under Cheng Yuelei.
There were huge home celebrations at the final whistle with flares going off in the crowd, the Qingdao team carrying a banner around the pitch and manager Chang Woe-Ryong apparently giving thanks to heaven in the home dugout. The R&F players had the opposite emotions as they can no longer finish in the third ACL spot and must now beat Jiangsu at home and hope that other results go their way to finish fourth and potentially qualify for the ACL if city rivals Evergrande can win the CFA Cup.