Guangzhou Evergrande is quickly going to need to build a new trophy cabinet the way they’re adding awards these days, on Sunday they did the double, winning the CFA Cup after defeating Guizhou Renhe 4-2 (5-3 on aggregate). They became only the third team (the first two being Dalian Shide and Shandong Luneng, who both did so twice) to win both the CSL title and the CFA Cup in the same season.
The first leg in Guiyang ended 1-1 meaning Evergrande was left with some work to do, but was in pole position to take the title. Early on they put in that work, within the first minute it was already 1-0, Zhang Linpeng chasing down a ball at the touch line and playing a ball into the middle where Lucas Barrios showed his class with a beautiful scissor kick goal. Arguably it was the goal of the year and was part of the reason Barrios was awarded Man of the Match.
Guizhou had a few decent first half chances, especially with Li Shuai not at the top of his game, but failed to get on the board. On the other side, just before the half, Evergrande doubled their lead, Zhang Linpeng wide open on the back post headed in a Sun Xiang cross. Down two, it was always going to be tough for Guizhou to get back in the match.
It was a more energetic Renhe in the second half, in the 51st minute a Sun Jihai ball found the head of Yu Hai, though Evergrande keeper was able to get his fingers on it. The ball fell to Rafa Jorda, who knocked it in from close range. The score was now 2-1 and Guizhou started seriously pressing, almost getting a second one moments later, but Jorda’s lob was just wide.
A bad clearance in the 66th minute saw Zhang charge down the wing again, play a ball from the touch line (again), and find Barrios for a nice goal (again!), seemingly securing Evergrande’s second trophy of the season. There would be some stressful moments for Guizhou, but frustration would rule the day. The team’s captain, Sun Jihai, took a stupid yellow card when he pushed Kim Young-Gwon out of anger over his time wasting.
It looked like Evergrande added icing on the cake late in extra time when a defensive error saw Conca all alone against the keeper, sliding in an easy fourth goal on the day. Just before the end of the match, Guizhou youngster Rao Weihui nailed a long shot from distance to add to Guizhou’s tally, but it wouldn’t be enough.
After the match it was interesting to see that Guizhou manager Gao Hongbo didn’t go up to receive his second place award, shaking the hand of Wei Di (who made the decision to fire him a year ago) may have been too much insult upon injury after losing the match. Many of the Evergrande players celebrated with their kids alongside them, while manager Marcello Lippi seemed angered when some champagne touched his finely tailored sportcoat.
Evergrande were worthy victors, displaying both of their trophies after the match, now it will be interesting to see how long their dynasty lasts.
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