Beijing Guoan’s history of starting the season on the right foot continued this year as the club managed an impressive 4-1 win over newly promoted side Shanghai East Asia.
The match had everything you could ask for with goals galore as well as appearances from two of Beijing’s foreigners who are still recovering, Freddie Kanoute and Andre Lima. For Gao Hongbo’s East Asia side, there is still a ways to go, but they can be proud of their performance in a match whose score line doesn’t show how close things actually were.
Lang Zheng scored the first goal of the new year in the 20th minute, charging in and going uncovered on a corner kick. Lang, who has been with the club since 2006, was quite possibly the last person expected to score for Guoan, but it did begin an odd night of scoring. Moments later, Guoan doubled their lead when Piao Cheng played some nice one touch passing with Zhang Xizhe, Piao found himself in a bit of space and his shot hit the cross bar where Joffre Guerron was in position to knock it in.
It was back and forth action as East Asia managed to pull one back in impressive fashion in the 25th minute. Wu Lei got a little lucky when his attempted cross hit Xu Yunlong and bounced right back to him. He then managed to avoid two defenders and slide a shot past Yang Zhi on the near post. If there was any doubts about Wu being a CSL calibre striker, he answered them with that goal and all night long he was the only one on East Asia creating chances.
Just before the half, Wang Xiaolong added another goal for the Men in Green, with the cross bar once again playing a role in it. This time, it was a rocket off a shot from Wang that hit the cross bar and then, unfortunately for the visitors, hitting keeper Yan Junling and bouncing into the net. With the match at 3-1 going into the half, there were reasons to expect even more goals in the second half.
In fact, the second half only produced a single goal, an own goal by Shanghai defender Wang Shenchao, who headed a Zhang Xizhe cross past his own keeper in the 78th minute. East Asia wasn’t without chances, but a combination of poor finishing and Guoan’s suffocating defense meant that they would only get one on the night.
Guoan’s new manager Aleksandar Stanojevic has to be happy with his sides victory, even if it involved a number of flukey goals. The club’s midweek face off against Sanfrecce Hiroshima, also at Gongti, is sure to be a far more substantial test. For Gao Hongbo, it was a rare defeat at Worker’s Stadium, but there is reason for East Asia fans to have hope for what lies ahead.