Bunyodkor 0-0 Beijing Guoan
AFC Asian Champions League Matchday 3
Despite the scoreline, it was an exciting Asian night between two excellent sides, though unfortunately the pitch was unable to meet the standards of the two sides.
While it didn’t look so bad a week ago when the Uzbeki national team played there, it was a different story tonight, the pitch looking more appropriate to grazing cattle. Guoan made four changes from the side that took on Guangzhou Evergrande on Friday, resting aging players like Xu Yunlong and Freddie Kanoute, as well as Andre Lima and Wang Xiaolong and replacing them with Joffre Guerron, Mao Jianqing, Egor Krimets, and Shao Jiayi.
There was some concern that an 18 hour flight that saw the team fly from Beijing-Seoul-Tashkent would have them tired, but early on Guerron would find himself with multiple chances in the opening half hour. During the same time, Bunyodkor focused on playing crosses in from the left wing to their huge Ukranian striker Oleksandr Pyschur, but this time around it made it to Marko Blažić on the back post, though his shot was from a bad angle and Yang Zhi was able to react in time. The best chance of the half, and arguably the match, came in the 38th minute when, despite the pitch, Guoan strung together a few passes with Zhang Xizhe finding Guerron who found Mao in space, making the keeper stretch and barely get a hand on the shot.
In the second half, things opened up a bit as Bunyodkor went on the offensive, again with crosses from the left wing. On the hour mark there was a lot of back-and-forth action with solid chances at both ends, but Bunyodkor controlling the ball and looking stronger than in the first half. However a defensive slip up and Guerron’s speed saw him have a great chance, though his shot was just wide.
Post-match, manager Aleksandar Stanojevic (who was watching the match from the stands after a touchline ban in the previous match), said “I am satisfied with my team and I think we deserved a draw. We tried to control the ball rather than attack as the players need to conserve energy for the upcoming games.” If there was a player of the match for Guoan, by far it had to be Zhang Xizhe, who was active in almost every one of the sides chances and has really blossomed so far this season.
The result was fair for both sides and leaves both teams tied with Pohang Steelers, all on five points. These sides will battle again in a week’s time at Worker’s Stadium in a match that could decide who advances from the group.
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