“Minimum spend” or “最低消费“ has become the buzzword among fans of Guangzhou Evergrande to describe their expectations of their team in home matches over the past two seasons, where three or four goals are often seen as a minimum. On the road, though, life is rarely so easy, but the Super League champions put aside their coach’s complaints over the long journey to Liaoning with a 4-0 win that continues the side’s improved form of recent weeks.
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 8
Liaoning FC 0
Guangzhou Evergrande 4′
Dong Xuesheng 18′, Muriqui 31′, Celeski (O.G.) 72′, Elkeson 89′
Goals from Dong Xuesheng, Muriqui and Elkeson, plus a complimentary own goal from unfortunate Australian Billy Celeski, were enough to secure victory on the occasion, against an opponent who have not been renowned for their hospitality towards the Cantonese visitors in recent years.
Marcello Lippi may have bemoaned a journey “worse than AFC Champions League fixtures” in the build up, but will have enjoyed the ease with which his rotated side strolled past their hosts.
Once more, following his dramatic return to form in the midweek win over Yokohama F. Marinos, attacking midfielder Muriqui was at the centre of the Evergrande success as the Brazilian continues his return to full fitness after an injury-plagued start to the campaign.
The breakthrough didn’t take long either, with Evergrande opening the scoring after 18 minutes through Liaoning native Dong Xuesheng; his third in his past four appearances. Rong Hao won the ball back on halfway before Muriqui’s nicely weighted through-ball slipped through the legs of Yi Teng, on loan from the visitors, to allow Dong to calmly open the scoring.
Dong once more played a major role in his side’s second goal on the half-hour mark, collecting Alessandro Diamanti’s long through-ball before looking to take on Yi Teng once more. Having reached the left edge of the box, a deft chipped cross picked out Muriqui in the centre and the Brazilian made no mistake to head home his first goal of what has been a challenging season to date.
Having given his side a comfortable lead at the break, it appeared that the Brazilian’s fine showing was set to get better soon after. Generally comfortable, Evergrande were patient in building attacks and it was on the hour mark that Muriqui found the back of the net once more, turning home Mei Fang’s inch-perfect low cross. Unfortunately for both, however, the offside flag was raised.
The third goal would not be long in coming. Just 10 minutes later, Diamanti took advantage of a free-kick from the right to deliver a swinging cross towards the front-post. While the service was excellent, his colleagues were unable to take advantage as, instead, the helpless Celeski turned the ball home while attempting to head clear.
With the game drifting towards its inevitable conclusion, substitute Elkeson was on hand to add his sixth goal in seven league appearances this season and add the icing to the cake for his side. It was the unfortunate Yi Teng who was left floundering once more, even in the final minute, as Diamanti split the defence with a wonderful diagonal through-ball to allow his colleague a relatively simple finish.
Evergrande were slow to get off the mark this campaign, but over the past couple of weeks look to have clicked into gear with a run of impressive showings in attacking areas.
Perhaps more pleasing for manager Lippi, though, will have been a clean-sheet and relatively trouble-free day in defence, having managed just two previous shutouts in their previous seven league games. With nine goals conceded at this early stage, it already looks unlikely that the club will come close to matching last year’s tally of just 18 goals conceded over the entire campaign.
Liaoning FC: Zhang Lu; Wang Liang, Yang Shanping, Yi Teng, Sun Shilin; Zhao Junzhe (Zhang Ye 46’), Billy Celeski (Ni Yusong 81’), Zhang Jingyang, Wang Hao (Hu Yanqiang 57’), Ding Haifeng; Aleksander Jevtic.
Guangzhou Evergrande: Zeng Cheng; Zhang Linpeng, Feng Xiaoting (Kim Young-Gwon 74’), Liu Jian, Rong Hao; Zhao Xuri, Liao Lisheng, Feng Junyan (Mei Fang 62’); Alessandro Diamanti, Muriqui (Elkeson 67’), Dong Xuesheng.