Holland’s superstars were just too much for a 10 man China as the national team put in a good effort but lose once again (view video highlights here). The match once again brings up a lot of questions about manager Jose Antonio Camacho’s selection policy as he did very little experimenting on the night.
China’s night didn’t get off to a good start when Zhang Linpeng took down Arjen Robben in the box in the 10th minute, conceding a penalty which Robin van Persie easily converted, giving the Dutch a 1-0 lead early on. It didn’t look like there was a lot of contact on the play, but it was difficult to argue the penalty. Things got a lot more difficult for China two minutes later when Qin Sheng went in very high and very late on Jonathan de Guzmán. It was a case of stupidity on the part of the Evergrande midfielder and frankly it should be the last straw as he’s never looked deserving of the national team.
A goal and a man down, it was never going to be an easy night for China, but they showed a spirit that has been rare under Camacho and didn’t give up, creating a few decent chances in the first half. Wesley Sneijder was brought on at the half to the delight of much of the crowd. When the half got started things looked bad for China as the Dutch went on a break and both van Persie and Robben hit the post. The Manchester United striker should have gotten his second in the 50th minute when a cross found him in space, but his volley was well over the crossbar.
China offered very little in the attack, once again a very average performance from Gao Lin, who couldn’t stay onside, but fortunately his Guangzhou teammate Zeng Cheng provided a massive performance, coming up with a number of impressive saves on the night. China’s best chance of the night came shortly after the hour mark, as Zheng Zheng found Yu Hanchao in space and the Dalian Aerbin attacker’s shot caused the Dutch keeper some issues, though he was able to get a hand on it before it crossed the goal line.
At times the Dutch class came through, with some beautiful touch play and at no time was it more apparent than in the 66th minute when van Persie found Robben who then found Sneijder in the middle for an amazing, spinning back heel goal. It was a play that showed how far apart China and Holland really are. Both teams started to make a handful of substitutions and the match was effectively over.
Camacho did bring on Guoan defender Lang Zheng with around 10 minutes left, a move that got the loudest ovation on the night from what was a very quiet, unenthused crowd. However, with only five minutes left, he decided to put on youngster Wu Lei, a move that made zero sense at the time and should have been made 25 minutes earlier.
The result was entirely acceptable to most China fans, especially considering they were a man down for so long, however it was once again an indictment on Camacho as a manager as its easy to see how better selection would have led to a more intriguing match.
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