Beijing Guoan 1-0 Guangzhou Evergrande
CSL Round 30
Zhang Xizhe 92′
On a miserable, rainy day, Beijing Guoan took on CSL repeat league champions Guangzhou Evergrande to end the 2012 season. Guoan sent the more than 40,000 supporters home happy with a goal on virtually the last kick of the season to win the match 1-0.
Neither club had a lot to play for beyond pride as Evergrande had already secured the league title while Guoan was assured a spot in next season’s Asian Champions League. The lineups demonstrated that, as both sides left some of their regular starters on the bench, while Evergrande kept the hated, traitorous Huang Bowen back in Guangzhou.
Beijing midfielder Wang Changqing may have been playing his last match for Guoan, but he made it count. Wang, who is one of the few Beijing born and bred players on the roster, put in a top performance, setting up teammates and coming close to scoring a number of times. However, it was the oft criticized Zhang Xizhe who scored the winner in the 92nd minute. Much of the credit goes to Xu Liang for his vision and his perfectly timed lob that found Zhang all alone in front of the keeper.
There were plenty of tears after the match, the end of Guoan’s 20th season is bound to see some changes, not the least of which is that manager Jaime Pacheco is expected to leave the capital. Pacheco’s tearful, heartfelt goodbye to Guoan’s north stand ultras was particularly memorable. Though the match was “meaningless”, it was Beijing’s first victory in four tries over Evergrande.
The club certainly exceeded preseason expectations with their third place finish, but fans will be looking for much more next season.