Guangzhou R&F 2–0 Shanghai Shenxin
China Super League Round 13
Rafael Coelho ’70, Davi ‘90+3
In his first game as Guangzhou R&F manager, Sven Goran Eriksson changed the formation and players and was rewarded as his side dominated the match. His second half introduction of Lu Lin proved the turning point though as the in-form Cantonese winger was crucial to both goals.
Ex-R&F manager Sergio Farias had consistently used a 4-2-3-1 formation but former Benfica, Lazio and England manager Sven Goran Eriksson sent out his team in a classic 4-4-2 formation. Eriksson also restored last year’s number one Cheng Yuelei to the goalkeeper spot but couldn’t find any space for winger Lu Lin. He did continue the practice of creating new centre back pairings though, this time Zhang Yaokun, captain for the day, was partnered by Australian defensive midfielder Royston Griffiths.
Possibly chastened by being hit for six by Shanghai East Asia just before the international break, Shanghai Shenxin came out in a defensive 5-3-2 formation. Other than Brazilian sub Jailton Paraiba, they offered little in attack and R&F’s defence got plenty of practice at dealing with long balls, 62 of them to be exact. The Cantonese side almost opened the scoring from a Shenxin long ball as they won two headers in a row which set Yakubu free 30 yards out. However, with the big Nigerian bearing down on him Shenxin keeper Liu Dianzuo did well to stay big and make the save.
This, along with a long range shot from Jiang Ning following a well-worked move, was as good as it got for R&F before the break as despite their possession they couldn’t find the final ball. Shenxin’s best moment came when Antonio Flavio had space in the box but could only shoot straight at Cheng in the R&F goal. The Shanghai side did have the ball in the net after fifty six minutes but Zuo Zhongting’s header from a freekick was ruled out for offside.
Guangzhou R&F continued to create chances: Zhang Yuan headed over, Yakubu’s shot on the turn went the same way and Coelho’s control let him down. The pressure was mounting but it took the introduction of Feng Zhuoyi and Lu Lin to produce a goal. To loud cheers local hero Lu replaced Zhang Yuan, who had struggled to link with Yakubu, and Jiang Ning shifted to the right to accommodate Lu on the left. It immediately paid dividends as Lu Lin started a move which saw Jiang and right back Tang Miao linking well with the latter getting to the byeline before pulling the ball back for Feng to cross and Coelho to head home the opener.
With twenty minutes left Shenxin were regretting their earlier time wasting tactics and substitute Paraiba received little support in attack. Most of the action stayed towards the Shenxin goal with first Davi and later Coelho both squandering one-on-one opportunities to put the result beyond doubt before Lu hit the post. The three points were secured in injury time though as Lu burst down the left flank before being bundled over by Liu Junnan in the area. Just as he’d done in the CFA Cup game against Chongqing, Davi immediately grabbed the ball and prevented Lu from taking the penalty although to the Brazilian’s credit he took it confidently and registered his first CSL goal of 2013.
Shanghai Shenxin mustered just one shot on target and will need to improve before they face Wuhan Zull on Wednesday night in a game between thirteenth and fourteenth in the CSL. Eriksson, who kept the players out on the pitch to conduct a warm-down, can be happy with the way his team played especially because they kept a clean sheet for only the third time this season. The result means R&F leapfrog Shenxin in the table and the Cantonese side will target Wednesday’s home game against lowly Tianjin TEDA as an opportunity to climb even higher.