A Gao Lin double helped Guangzhou Evergrande to a convincing 5-2 away victory over Tianjin Teda on Friday night, in a match that in which the champions twice saw their lead pegged back by the hosts.
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 6
Tianjin Teda 2
Wang Xinxin 17′, Zhou Haibin 52′
Guangzhou Evergrande 5
Dong Xuesheng 5’, Gao Lin 30’ 68’, Rong Hao 54’, Elkeson pen 60’
Tianjin were the only side to beat Evergrande in the 2013 Chinese Super League and, while the Cantonese side have already lost this campaign, the chance to exact a form of revenge will have been sweet for the league leaders.
The sending off of experienced Tianjin defender Li Weifeng after 60 minutes allowed Evergrande to see out the game in relative comfort, playing the final 20 minutes with a three-goal lead.
They had, though, been given a fright by their opponents who twice scored against the run of play to level proceedings on the night.
Evergrande had started the tie in rip-roaring fashion, forcing defensive midfielder Lu Wei into a clearance off the line within the opening moments of the game. As clearances go, it was mightily impressive with a goal seeming inevitable as Rong Hao’s shot dribbled towards the goal-line.
It was to prove sadly futile, however, with Dong Xuesheng soon scoring his third goal of the season soon after, heading home an inch-perfect Zhang Linpeng cross with aplomb. Dong may not have arrived with much of a reputation from his time at Dalian Aerbin, but has quickly settled in Guangzhou and has shown impressive work-rate and ability over recent weeks.
Tianjin captain Wang Xinxin would score a header of his own just ten minutes later to level the scores, pulling off the daydreaming Zhao Xuri to find himself completely unmarked in the centre of the goal. Yet again, Evergrande’s sloppy defending had cost them in a match that had been completely under control.
On the half-hour mark, though, Evergrande were back ahead. Experienced forward Gao Lin brought down a Kim Young-Gwon long ball inside the area and, with a clever slight of foot, left Li Weifeng on the floor before clipping a finish into the far corner of the net. It was a goal out of nothing, but one that would see his side head into half-time with their lead restored.
Shortly after the break, Tianjin were once more level. Evergrande had been sloppy in conceding two consecutive corners and were made to pay dearly as Zhou Haibin won a front-post header that went through the attempted save of normally reliable Zeng Cheng. Parity, though, would last just two minutes before Rong Hao added an Evergrande third after a Zhao Xuri knockdown.
Just a couple of minutes later, the game was ended as a contest. Du Zhenyu, so impressive in recent games, dwelt on the ball at the edge of the area and was robbed by Brazilian Elkeson who powered towards goal. A bad day at the office was to get worse for Li Weifeng who pulled the striker down before seeing a red card. Elkeson made no mistake from the spot.
The goal freed coach Marcello Lippi up to make changes, with Muriqui immediately replacing his compatriot ahead with the midweek trip to Melbourne in mind. When Gao Lin then capitalised on the substitute’s clever through-ball to round keeper Zong Lei and slot home a fifth, Zhao Xuri was also withdrawn.
Tuesday’s clash with Melbourne Victory remains the main focus for Evergrande who were without several first-team players in Tianjin. Success in Australia would seal the club’s place in the AFC Champions League Last 16 and keep alive hopes of repeating last season’s famous triumph.
Tianjin Teda: Zong Lei; Bai Yuefeng, Li Weifeng, Eder Lima, Yuan Weiwei; Zhou Haibin, Lu Wei (Cao Yang 46’), Wang Xinxin (Mohammed Ali Khan 61’), Du Zhenyu; Andrezinho (Bare 46’); Carmelo Valencia.
Guangzhou Evergrande: Zeng Cheng; Zhang Linpeng, Feng Xiaoting (Huang Bowen 46′), Kim Young-Gwon, Mei Fang; Zhao Xuri (Feng Junyan 71′), Liao Lisheng, Rong Hao; Gao Lin, Dong Xuesheng, Elkeson (Muriqui 60′).