CSL Round 30
Lu Lin 89’; Sun Ke 30’
Guangzhou R&F and Jiangsu Sainty played out a largely uneventful 1 – 1 draw in the final game of the CSL season. A Sun Ke header put Jiangsu one nil up at half time but Lu Lin’s last gasp equaliser gave R&F a well-deserved share of the spoils.
Needing to win to keep alive their slim ACL hopes, Sergio Farias switched R&F from his preferred 4-5-1 to a 4-3-3 formation. This meant Li Yan could come back into the side after injury and join Liang Yanfeng and usual left back Liu Cheng in midfield as the Cantonese side were again without three of their foreign players. Jiangsu‘s line-up was also missing some key foreigners; the Brazilian Eleilson was suspended and CSL top scorer Cristian Danalache didn’t feature either.
The game started almost as slowly as the fans in the stands did. In another of the odd decisions that characterise Chinese football, word was passed round that we were to be quiet for the first 10 minutes and we were even scowled at for applauding a great tackle. Thankfully after about five minutes the leaders realised how ridiculous this was and the chanting started.
On the pitch, R&F were restricted to long-range efforts from Liang Yanfeng and Davi before some neat control from Davi in the box drew a save from Deng Xiaofei in the Jiangsu goal.
Jiangsu took the lead after half an hour when Liu Cheng was caught in possession in the right back area. The Nanjing side switched the ball to their right-wing and Ji Xiang swung over a cross that Sun Ke rose above Tang Miao to head at the backpost and his header looped past Cheng Yuelei into the far corner of the goal. Later on Lu Bofei’s freekick had Cheng worried but it whistled just over the bar.
Jiangsu still held the lead going into the second half which R&F, aided by Lu Lin’s introduction, started brightly. The pressure came to nothing though as Zhang Yuan and, uncharacteristically, Tang Miao failed to find a decent cross between them. The best chance fell to Jiangsu’s Jevtic but he was denied by an outstanding Cheng save and a sliding block from Xu Bo.
After a poor 70 minutes Zhang Yuan was replaced by Yu Guijin but he too failed to make an impact as despite having 58% of the possession R&F couldn’t break through the final line of the Jiangsu defence. Half time sub Lu Lin was much more influential and sent over a cross that Xu Bo couldn’t direct past Jiangsu’s Deng. Five minutes later his captain and centre back partner, Li Zhe saw his header fly just wide.
Urged on by the drummers and megaphone men for the final ten minutes of the season the home fans made more noise and their team responded but it took until the ninetieth minute to get the goal that they deserved. It was worth the wait though as some brilliant one touch passing between Li Yan, Davi, Yakubu and Li again set up Lu Lin and fittingly it was the Guangzhou native who slotted home the equaliser and R&F’s final goal of the season.
The game finished 1- 1 which meant that each side secured their highest ever league positions. Jiangsu were already assured of a second place finish but on this showing they will struggle in the ACL next season. Meanwhile, after never having been outside the top six all season, R&F slipped to seventh on the final weekend but this is still a very creditable result in their first CSL season and gives them something to build on next year.