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Spoils shared at the seaside as R&F finally get off the mark

Qingdao Jonoon 1–1 Guangzhou R&F
Chinese Super League Round 4
Melkam 76’; Yakubu 34’

High flying Qingdao were pegged back as Guangzhou R&F claimed their first point of the season after a match played in cold and windy conditions on the Shandong coast. Yakubu put the visitors ahead in the first half only to watch from the bench as fellow Nigerian Gabriel Melkam volleyed in the equaliser in the second period.

Following their third victory in as many games, Qingdao were joint top of the CSL heading into round four whilst R&F had no points to their name after three disappointing defeats. The visitors were also without Davi who was fined 20,000 yuan and suspended because of his red card last week. Coach Farias still stuck with his 4-2-3-1 formation though; Zhang Yaokun playing for the first time in his favoured position of centre back with Jumar and Royston Griffiths operating in defensive central midfield this week.

It was cold and windy in Qingdao and many players were wearing gloves, some even going for the classic short-sleeved shirt and gloves combination. R&F came out fired up and, backed by the wind, started very brightly. Rafael Coelho had a great chance within the first five minutes but opted to pass rather than shoot and his cutback was intercepted before it could reach Jiang Ning. Jiang had an even better chance after he’d sprung the offside trap but could only shoot straight into goalkeeper Mou Pengfei’s stomach. Jiang wasn’t very impressive in the last match but was heavily involved this time; he thought he should’ve had two penalties given and saw another shot blocked when he’d seemed clean through after a fortuitous deflection.

R&F got their first lead of the CSL season a few minutes later though courtesy of captain Yakubu. Coelho accelerated down the right wing and squared it to an unmarked Yakubu just outside the box. The Nigerian’s first touch was poor but he still managed to pass the ball into the bottom corner just before covering defenders Gustavo and Jiao Zhe arrived. Coelho almost added another assist but Jiang couldn’t bundle the ball past keeper Mou.

They weren’t helped by the wind but Qingdao offered very little in attack in the first half, their best chance an early header from Jiao Zhe. They seemed more focussed on time wasting to try to make sure it was still 0-0 at the break before they could play with the wind at their backs in the second half. Given how long Mou had been taking over his goal kicks the referee showed a complete lack of consistency by booking R&F’s Shi Xiaotian the first time he dallied with his kick.

This card followed a disallowed goal from Qingdao who seemed to have woken up after falling behind. The linesman’s flag went up straight away but ruling out Liu Jian’s diving header at the back post for offside was a very close call.

For possibly the first time in his CSL career Yakubu didn’t play the full ninety minutes as Zhang Yuan replaced him after an hour. A controversial substitution but it turned out to be a good one as Zhang really added to the attack and his work rate was a lot higher. Sadly for the Cantonese side he lacked Yakubu’s compose when played through following a neat backheel by Jiang and he dithered before falling over Gustavo’s leg which was harshly ruled as a dive and earned him a yellow card.

The second half was a more even contest than the first and Gabriel Melkam came close to equalising when he shot just over the bar from outside the box. He was just finding his range though as two minutes later Jumar’s clearing header dropped shot and Melkam hammered home a volley from just inside the box.

The game opened up as both sides looked for a winner with Qingdao creating more chances in this period. Melkam again popped up in attack but put his shot narrowly wide after Meneghel’s clever flick. Zhang Yuan had a great chance to earn R&F their first victory of the season in stoppage time but Jiao Zhe did well to recover and block the shot.

Qingdao have now taken ten points from their opening four fixtures and sit joint second in the CSL, defying many pre-season predictions about them, at least for the moment. R&F meanwhile picked up their first point of the season here and given how many chances they created throughout the game the Cantonese team will be disappointed not to be taking all three points back to Guangzhou with them.

Donald began following Guangzhou R&F having moved to China in the same year that R&F moved to Guangzhou. The club's first foreign season ticket holder, Donald was able to watch three seasons at Yuexiushan before returning to the UK.

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