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Beijing Guoan draw in Japan in Champions League opener

Asian Champions League Matchday 1

Chiba Kazuhiko 77′

Ha Dae-sung 63′

Attendance: 6,021

In his opening match as Beijing Guoan’s manager, Gregorio Manzano led the club to a satisfying draw away at Japanese champions, Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Guoan played a more defensive formation in this match, with only Joffre Guerron up top and supported by the slower, more holding Shao Jiayi behind him rather than Peter Utaka. Also, Piao Cheng, whose decision making looked labored against Chonburi, sat in favor of giving Ha Dae-sung his first start for Guoan.

The first half was a tight affair, with the only real chance being created by Guerron on the counter attack. Despite basically having to carry a Hiroshima defender on his back, Guerron found space for himself and didn’t go down, his shot rolled just wide of the outside post.

Things became more open in the second half and Yang Zhi was forced to task on more than one occasion, but the Chinese international was ready. The Beijingers would get the first goal shortly after the hour mark, when Ha knocked a corner kick rebound past the keeper.

Sanfrecce had more chances than Guoan and would finally find the back of the net late in the match off their own corner kick, this time Chiba had Yang dead to rights with a beautiful one touch, aerial shot. There would be a bit of controversy late when Darko Matic came in late for a tackle and the referee harshly showed the Croatian a straight red.

While Guoan will be smarting over the loss of Matic, fans will be satisfied by an opening road point to the club’s ACL campaign. While it shows Manzano knows how to get a result, the real excitement surrounds newboy Ha, who looks like he will have a major impact this year.

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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