Guangzhou R&F 1 – 0 AIK Solna
China Europe Cup
Lu Lin ’80
A second half free kick from substitute Lu Lin gave Guangzhou R&F victory in the China Europe Cup on Saturday, clinching a 1-0 victory over 2013 Allsvenskan runners-up AIK. Held in Shenzhen’s Bao’an Stadium it was an open game in which both sides created chances and hit the post but it was Lu’s first touch that would be decisive.
The Swedish giants had been scheduled to play Liaoning earlier in the week but an organisational blunder meant proper international clearance hadn’t been received so the game was cancelled. A small group of noisy Swede’s had earlier on Saturday watched Solna’s second string lose 3-2 against China League One side Shenzhen Ruby.
Guangzhou R&F returned from pre-season training in Turkey with a record of one win, two draws and one defeat and the management also had a busy transfer deadline day, picking up two foreign strikers as well as goalkeeper Zhang Shichang from Shenzhen Ruby. Zhang made the match squad and the starting eleven showed five changes from the side that started the final game of last year’s CSL against Shanghai Shenhua.
AIK immediately took the initiative as it took time for R&F to adjust to the speed and strength of their European opponents; failed transfer target Kennedy almost making them pay but being let down by his finishing. At the other end Zhang Yuan went close twice for the Cantonese as the half drew to a close.
R&F continued to grow into the game and started the second half brightly with new signing Jiang Zhipeng keen to get forward from left back. He was allowed to as R&F put together some nice passages of play with South Koreans Jang Hyun-Soo and Park Jong-Woo looking particularly calm in possession. Youngster Chang Feiya wasn’t particularly impressive, though, and will probably make way for Zhang Shuo or one of the foreign signings, scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, against Tianjin next weekend.
Guangzhou R&F’s other foreigner, Davi, crashed a volley against the crossbar and was later tripped inside the D. Four substitutes came on at this point and one of them, Lu Lin, curled the resulting free-kick into the top corner for the only goal of the game. As time ticked away Sven made full use of his bench, bringing on seven substitutes in total, which disrupted R&F’s backline and AIK almost took advantage, but a late header hit the post.
It was a rare win for a Chinese side against visiting European opposition and, more importantly, an encouraging performance by R&F ahead of the start of the 2014 CSL.
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