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Guoan do just enough; Guizhou fall just short

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-0 Beijing Guoan
AFC Champions League Matchday 6
Attendance: 5,719

Guizhou Renhe 2-2 Suwon Bluewings
Sun Jihai 45′, Zhang Chenglin 86′; Lee Jongmin 35′, Kwan Changhoon 55′
AFC Champions League Matchday 6
Attendance: 28,000

Beijing Guoan earned a point and a ticket into the Round of 16 with their draw at Sanfrecce Hiroshima last night, while Guizhou Renhe’s draw means they’re going out of the competition early.

With the Men in Green completely focused on this match, resting their entire side with the exception of Lang Zheng over the weekend and getting embarassed by Dalian Aerbin, a lot was expected of the team when they took the pitch last night. Guoan failed to deliver the top performance that the fans were hoping for, but they achieved their goal, playing generally defensive football and not looking as fresh as would be expected. A beautiful set piece play where Lang flicked it on to Joffre Guerron for a header on the back post was their best chance of the night, unfortunately the referee (incorrectly) flagged Guerron for being offside and took away the goal (and a nice “gift” for birthday boy Guerron).

Outside of the goal that was deemed not to be one, the vast majority of Guoan’s chances came in the first half, including a Piao Cheng shot that curved wide and a great ball for Freddie Kanoute, who didn’t receive it cleanly and missed the net. For their part, Sanfrecce, long since eliminated from the competition, put out a watered down side made up of young, reserve players to face the Beijingers and were happy to play a possession game. They did come close a few times, most notably with a shot off the post, but outside of that, they weren’t able to create much.

In the other match featuring a Chinese side, Guizhou hosted Suwon Bluewings, another side already eliminated from the competition, needing a win and some help to get into the next round. It was a very exciting, back and forth match with Guizhou conceding first only to come back just before the end of the first half. At the half, they were getting the help they needed, with Kashiwa leading against Central Coast Mariners, but the Guiyang-based side conceded again in the second half.

They did manage a late equalizer and came close to winner in the dying minutes of the match as it was all hands in the attack, but they could only manage a draw, falling one point short of going on to the next round. The ACL debutants from southwest China can be proud of what they accomplished in the competition, earning six points and coming close to a Round of 16 berth.

As for Guoan, they’ll be slightly disappointed they couldn’t find a goal (or the goal they scored was wrongly taken away), as Pohang fought hard and managed a draw against Bunyodkor, meaning a Guoan win would see the capital side going through as group winners. Instead of getting a weaker Vegalta Sendai or Buriram United (or, very unlikely, Jiangsu Sainty), they’ll go up against Korean capital side, FC Seoul, who has dominated Group E.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere.

He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years.

Chemers’ credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers.

For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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