FC Seoul 3-1 Beijing Guoan (Agg. 3-1)
AFC Champions League Round of 16, Leg 2
Adilson 60′, Yun Il-lok 70′, Koh Myong-jin 90’+4; Kanoute 9′
Hope works in strange ways, there’s no reason Beijing Guoan fans should have had hope for their club’s chances to be one of the top 8 sides in Asia, but for an hour last night, there was indeed that hope. In the end it all turned out to be false as bad refereeing and odd managerial decisions saw the Chinese side return to the one that has so frustrated their fans for much of this season.
With a rash of injuries, Beijing started last night without two key players, youngsters Lei Tenglong and Wang Hao were given starts for Zhou Ting and Wang Xiaolong, both injured over the weekend against Tianjin. The choice of Wang, who only has one previous start this season and has played a total of 52 minutes for the first team in 2013, was surprising.
However, things started out looking up for the Beijingers when a lucky bounce and haphazard defending saw Freddie Kanoute put the visitors up 1-0 early in the 1st half. Now Guoan had the lead and an all important away goal, they just had to hold onto it for the next 80 minutes. That they held on through the first half can only be credited to keeper Yang Zhi, who came up with numerous big saves throughout the match.
Seoul continued to press throughout the second half, but Yang turned them back. Manager Stanojevic made an unusual decision in the 54th minute, taking off Joffre Guerron and bringing on Yang Yun. Yang would prove to be a waste and the decision would come back to haunt the manager as the match wore on.
Things started to get weird around the hour mark, Dejan Damjanovic missed a penalty, but within a few minutes the Korean side equalized when a defensive mistake let Adilson tap one in on an empty goal. Ten minutes later another defenisve mixup on Guoan’s part saw Yun Il-lok blast one past Yang to give the Koreans a lead.
A very suspect offside call led to Kanoute being shown a second yellow in the 80th minute, making a Guoan comeback all the less likely. When Adilson was shown red three minutes from time, there was a bit of hope that Guoan could secure an equalizer and earn a victory, hopes were dashed a mere two minutes later when Zhang Xinxin was shown a second yellow and then, in extra time, a roving Yang Zhi led to a third Seoul goal.
The run exceeded the expectations of most Beijing fans, but at the same time it left a bad taste in fans’ mouths as their conversations are sure to be punctured with a lot of “ifs” today. It was a great run and shows Guoan isn’t that far off from seriously competing in Asia, but there are still many changes required.
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