CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 1
Beijing Guoan 1
Pablo Batalla 67′
Changchun Yatai 0
Beijing Guoan didn’t deliver the dominant performance fans were hoping for, but the side got the season off to a good start taking all three points at home against a weak Changchun Yatai.
The goal came late in the second half, near the 70th minute mark, and was a beautiful piece of individual skill from Zhang Chengdong, creating the opportunity down the right wing. He centered the ball to new signing Pablo Batalla, who easily slid the ball past the keeper, starting his Guoan career off with a bang.
The game didn’t get off to a good start for the Beijingers. In the opening minutes of the match, Yang Zhi struggled to make a clean catch on a long Changchun free kick, creating more work for himself as he needed to make a quick reaction save from point blank range. From there, Guoan dominated possession, but didn’t create much in the way of chances against their defensive minded opponents. It didn’t help that Joffre Guerron appeared to pick up an injury and had to be subbed off at the half hour mark or that Lang Zheng almost took out his teammate Darko Matic with wayward tackle.
Guoan looked much better in the second half, their attack driven by excellent play from Guoan’s trio of young midfielders, Zhang Xizhe, Piao Cheng, and Zhang Chengdong. Despite Changchun’s single minded defending, these three were able to use their speed and skill to carve up the defense. Guoan’s goal was the perfect example of this, with Zhang cutting inside to split two defenders and open up space, before playing it to Batalla in the middle.
Both keepers were forced to make big saves late on. Zhang made a similar run, this time finding Utaka in the middle, though Song Zhenyu was up to the task. Guoan fans were forced to hold their breath waiting for the final whistle, Yang Zhi had to make an acrobatic save to keep out a Pei Shuai shot in the dying minutes.