Dalian Aerbin 2 – 2 Guangzhou R&F
China Super League Round 26
Yu Dabao 59, 76 (pen) ; Zhang Yuan 63, Lu Lin 71
Four goals in seventeen second half minutes saw the spoils shared between Dalian Aerbin and Guangzhou R&F in a game that was dominated by the referee’s whistle. 56 fouls were committed in a match that was otherwise notable for all the goals coming from Chinese players.
Following two heavy defeats R&F made several changes with injuries to Jiang Ning and Roystn Griffiths forcing them out and Rafael Coelho being replaced by Davi. The other players to come in were Lu Lin on the wing and second choice centre back Xu Bo played as a defensive midfielder as Sven Goran Eriksson abandoned any pretence of playing 4-4-2 by using a 4-2-3-1 formation. Aerbin lost to Changchun last week and were due to face Guizhou in the cup semi-finals in midweek but with Guangzhou Evergrande’s involvement in semi-finals of the ACL, both semis of the domestic cup competition have been moved to October.
R&F threatened to burst into life immediately as Lu Lin hit the angle of post and bar after only four minutes with a wickedly dipping volley. However, no real tempo was allowed to emerge in the first half due to the constant flow of free kicks, 56 were awarded in the game, which prevented the creative players on either side from getting meaningfully involved. Aerbin put in some dangerous crosses from their free kicks whilst the best R&F could muster in reply was a trademark long range shot from Eddy Bosnar which was saved at the second attempt by Zhang Chong.
The first half ended in controversy when Dalian striker Nabil Baha and R&F’s Xu Bo tussled when chasing a loose ball. Both players were pulling each other’s shirts and then the Moroccan clearly put his hand on Xu’s face and pushed him over. Despite this neither the linesman nor referee saw fit to award a freekick let alone the card that Baha deserved for raising his hand to an opponent’s face.
Dalian opened the second half brightly and Guangzhou winger Zhang Yuan was forced into a disgraceful show of play acting to prevent a cross. He charged out with his hands well above his head and jumped in the air to block the ball, then fell down clutching his stomach as if the ball had hit him there. This time the referee wasn’t fooled though and gave a freekick.
R&F had only avoided conceding thanks to a couple of good Cheng Yuelei saves and some scrambled clearances but Aerbin finally made the breakthrough just before the hour mark. A delicate chip from Rochemback was miscontrolled by Baha but fell kindly to Daniel Mullen who saw his lob cleared off the line by Bosnar’s header which in turned dropped at the feet of Yu Dabao who side footed in to open the scoring.
The Cantonese side were stung by this and hit back immediately. Davi fed Yakubu whose pass to Lu Lin allowed the winger to cut in from the left and slide a ball through to the on rushing Zhang Yuan who kept his composure and finished well to equalise.
R&F were now in the ascendency and despite Xu Bo being far from anybody’s idea of a ball playing central midfielder, began to string some passes together and create opportunities. Yakubu and Xu both missed glorious chances before their team took the lead. A quick break saw the ball played up to Yakubu on the right, he fed Davi in the centre and the Brazilian found Lu Lin on the left with a one touch pass and the Cantonese player’s shot deflected off the heel of Mullen into the far corner of the goal.
Aerbin weren’t behind for long though as Yu Daobao equalised with a penalty five minutes later after Li Wenbo was harshly adjudged to have pushed rather than shoulder barged Nabil Baha off the ball in the box.
The game descended into a series of freekicks after this and shortly after R&F survived a piece of horrific miscommunication between Li Wenbo and Eddy Bosnar which almost let Aerbin in for a late winner the referee blew his whistle for a final time to end the game.
Aerbin will be annoyed that despite their pressure they couldn’t find a winner because next week they play a resurgent Tianjin Teda side. R&F on the other hand will be pleased that their defence didn’t buckle and that Davi, playing in the centre of the three advanced midfielders, had his best game for some time. A quirk of the fixture list means that when R&F play at home to Changchun next weekend they will have faced last season’s CSL top six in the order that they finished last year in consecutive rounds of this year’s CSL. Sven will hope his team can end this sequence with a win.