Guangzhou Evergrande 3-0 Jiangsu Sainty
CSL Round 2
A hat-trick from winter signing Elkeson ensured that Guangzhou Evergrande banished memories of their recent defeat in the Super Cup to Jiangsu Sainty with an emphatic victory over last years CSL runners-up. The Brazilian had been unfairly singled-out for blame for the loss of that trophy by the local media, but five goals in his first two CSL games has amply demonstrated what an astute signing the club have made.
He scored his first with his right foot with only thirteen minutes gone, after latching onto a clever through ball from Gao Lin. The assist apart, Gao was largely wasteful in this match, and Rong Hao was a definite improvement when he replaced him after the hour mark. Elkeson’s second came after half an hour had been played when he used his left foot at close range to volley in a great cross from Zhao Xuri.
His desire to complete the perfect hat-trick was demonstrated in the 55th minute when he nodded a lovely dipping Sun Xiang cross over the bar even though Zheng Zhi was in a better position behind him to make a good connection. He made amends in the 64th minute however, when clever movement in the box set him free of his marker to head in his and Guangzhou’s third goal of the night from a corner by Huang Bowen, who had just replaced Conca.
Guangzhou lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Feng Xiaoting and Kim at the heart of defense, shielded by Zheng and Zhao, and with Sun and Zhang on the flanks. Conca took his customary attacking midfield role, with Muriqui and Gao on the left and right respectively of the attacking trio, and Elkeson taking centre stage. As usual the formation was very fluid, with Zheng or one of the side-backs sometimes playing more like a third central defender, particularly when Sun was making one of his many early runs up the left. Evergrande had by far the majority of the possession throughout the game, as was to be expected with the teams respective approaches.
Jiangsu seemed to line up in a similar 4-5-1 to that they employed on their last visit here, though there were some changes up front. Jevtić was this time preferred as centre forward at the expense of new signing Salihi, and Jiang Jiajun and Sun Ke replaced Wu Xi and Bari Mamatil (who rumour has it has already worn out his welcome at his new club after being fired last year by Hangzhou Greentown) in midfield. The plan seemed to be to play a similar tight and defensive counter-attacking game as won them the Super Cup, but the concession of an early goal made this approach much less effective than in the previous encounter.
However, for all Guangzhou’s possession and pressing, Elkeson’s ability to take his chances was probably the main difference between the sides on a night when Jiangsu’s efforts on goal were limited in number but high on convertibility. Their first came just two minutes in, when a long ball forward to Jevtić caught out a not-yet-awake Guangzhou defense, and the Serbian did well to get around Feng before sending his shot just wide of the left post.
Then in the 24th minute, Jevtić hit the post when it seemed easier to score; a bungled attempt at the offside trap had left him practically alone with the ball in the middle of the box. This was immediately followed by the first yellow card of the game as Zheng was cautioned for a crude tackle on Jiang Jiajun, though Jiangsu defender Eleílson rightly followed him into the book shortly thereafter. Ten minutes later, Krivets sent a nice knock-down in the box from Jevtić straight at Zeng in the Guangzhou goal. Ji Xiang also sent a close-range free kick just over the bar right before half-time.
The match may have played out quite differently if Jiangsu had taken one or more of these opportunities to score, but as it was they went in two goals down at half-time, and despite swapping in Salihi for midfielder Krivets at half-time (as well as Wu Xi for Ren Hang, and then Lu Bofei for Liu Jianye five minutes after the restart) they had little in the way of goal attempts in the second half, apart from two decent opportunities badly missed by the Algerian striker at either end of the period.
Instead, the second half largely consisted of sustained pressure from Evergrande, which continued even after Elkeson scored his third. Conca and Muriqui seemed more subdued than usual, despite having a couple of chances of their own, but it mattered not as the night belonged to Elkeson, who may well eclipse all the supposedly bigger names in the squad if he manages to keep this kind of form up.
Guangzhou Evergrande: 19 Zeng Cheng; 32 Sun Xiang, 28 Kim Young-Gwon, 6 Feng Xiaoting, 5 Zhang Linpeng; 10 Zheng Zhi, 37 Zhao Xuri, 15 Conca (16 Huang Bowen 64′); 11 Muriqui (25 Peng Xinli 84′), 9 Elkeson, 29 Gao Lin (33 Rong Hao 64′)
Jiangsu Sainty: 1 Deng Xiaofei; 23 Ren Hang (22 Wu Xi, 46′), 3 Eleílson, 39 Tajiev, 5 Zhou Yun; 24 Ji Xiang, 6 Jiang Jiajun, 8 Liu Jianye (9 Lu Bofei, 49′), 21 Krivets (11 Salihi, 46′), 20 Sun Ke; 38 Jevtić