Guangzhou Evergrande 3-0 Tianjin Teda
Chinese Super League round 8
Conca 17′, Elkeson 59′, Gao Lin 64′
Guangzhou Evergrande last night shrugged off their (limited) midweek ACL exertions to put three goals without reply past bottom side Tianjin Teda and regain pole position in the CSL. Rested for the Jeonbuk match, Gao Lin returned to make his 100th appearance for Evergrande since joining as the newly branded club’s first signing in 2010. He put in an energetic and effective performance to mark the occasion, capped off with the final goal of the game after earlier strikes by Conca and Elkeson.
The Cantonese team resumed their usual 4-3-3 line-up for this fixture; apart from Gao, changes in personnel from Wednesday’s match were Elkeson up front in place of Barrios, Zhang Linpeng replacing Sun Xiang, and Qin Sheng and the suspended Zhao Xuri making way for Huang Bowen playing alongside Zheng Zhi in midfield. Tianjin made only one change from the team that had managed their first win of the season last time out against fellow-strugglers Wuhan Zall, with Brazilian Éder Lima preferred to his countryman Dinélson.
Tianhe stadium was far from the ideal place to look to build on their first three points, but the Northerners did seek to attack at times, mostly early on and down the right, with Valencia making several vaguely dangerous runs. The visitors never really looked like scoring though, with the well-organised Guangzhou defense largely restricting them to hopeful long-range efforts.
It was a long-range strike that broke the deadlock in the 17th minute, but Conca’s spectacular missile of a shot had more than mere optimism behind it. He received the ball in the centre circle, pushed it forward a bit and, finding himself about 30 yards out with no one pressing down on him, blasted a precision curler into the top right hand corner of the net. CSL defences really should know Conca better by now than to give him that much space, but this was still special.
The goal was quickly followed by the only two yellow cards of the game, as first Liao Bochao was penalised for fouling Muriqui outside the box, and then Zhang Linpeng was very harshly booked for what looked like a gentle tug on Cao Yang’s jersey; it seems Zhang needs to be very careful from here on in as he is likely a marked man after his rush of blood in Japan.
The referee should have been handing out another card in the 32nd minute when veteran defender Li Weifeng bundled over Muriqui in the box just as he did in the same fixture last season, but the foul this time somehow went unnoticed. The Brazilian forward may have gone down easily, but it certainly looked like a penalty. Tianjin defended well thereafter, and the teams went in at the whistle with just the one goal between them.
Lippi decided to bring Sun Xiang on in place of Rong Hao during the break, a sensible decision given that he had been clumsy with the ball and generally uncomfortable-looking at left back. Even though this was his original position prior to the Italian’s arrival, he didn’t seem as capable as when he plays on the right side of midfield, though he may have just been tired after 90 minutes on Wednesday.
After the restart, Tianjin came out with renewed vigour and pressed well for a while, but it didn’t take long for Guangzhou to push them back, with Conca going close a couple of times. Just before the hour mark, a perfectly timed ball through the defense from Muriqui beat the offside-trap and set Elkeson up to round the keeper and score in his seventh consecutive CSL match.
Gao Lin had been having an excellent game, causing Bai and Li lots of problems on Tianjin’s left side throughout; both were replaced before the end. After so much good work building up attacks, he began to seek a goal himself, hitting wide in the 62nd minute and scoring a sumptuous goal on the counter two minutes later. Receiving the ball from Elkeson on the right, he dashed into the box and skipped first one way round Éder and then the other past Yang before coolly slotting home into an empty net and running to celebrate with the poster-waving fan section pictured above.
Those two goals in five minutes signalled the end of the contest as Tianjin more or less gave up trying (apart from a couple of good attempts right at the death), while Guangzhou became quite sloppy in possession and missed a number of chances to add to their tally.
Barrios and Feng Renliang came on for Conca and Elkeson in the 68th minute, with Barrios making more of an effort than we had been seeing earlier in the season, though he still tended to shirk from 50-50 balls. From the jeers that rang out from some whenever he let another half-chance slip through his fingers, it seemed like the fans are getting as tired of him as he is of China. Feng had trouble getting the ball passed to him and didn’t often do much of use with it when he did, though he was cruelly deprived of a first goal for his new side in the 79th minute by a very suspect offside decision, one of several from this assistant referee over the course of the game.
The result sees Guangzhou back on top of the table, leading Shandong by goal difference but with a game in hand. On Friday they travel to Shanghai to take on the only other as yet unbeaten team in the league, surprise package Shenhua, while Tianjin face Jiangsu at home, a game they’ll really need to get something out of as their following three are against top sides Beijing, Guizhou, and Dalian.
Guangzhou Evergrande: 19 Zeng Cheng; 33 Rong Hao ,6 Feng Xiaoting, 28 Kim Young-Gwon, 5 Zhang Linpeng; 16 Huang Bowen, 10 Zheng Zhi, 15 Conca; 11 Muriqui, 29 Gao Lin, 9 Elkeson
Subs: 22 Li Shuai, 32 Sun Xiang (for Rong Hao 46′), 18 L. Barrios (for Elkeson 68′), 14 Feng Renliang (for Conca 68′), 3 Yi Teng, 7 Feng Junyang , 8 Qin Sheng
Tianjin Teda: 25 Yang Qipeng; 28 Bai Yuefeng, 3 Éder Lima, 5 Li Weifeng, 15 Liao Bochao; 7 Li Benjian, 16 E. Paartalu, 26 Cao Yang, 10 Wang Xinxin, 11 C. Valencia; 31 V. Jovančić
Subs: 1 Zong Lei, 6 Du Zhenyu (for Liao Bochao 54′), 20 Mao Biao (for Wang Xinxin 63′), 8 Hu Rentian (for Li Benjian 74′), 2 He Yang, 9 Dinélson, 29 Li Hongyang