Despite the intense atmosphere at a packed Worker’s Stadium, Beijing Guoan failed to satisfy the faithful as Shandong Luneng’s Vagner Love was the star of the night, scoring an impressive hat trick in a match marred by horrible refereeing.
The intensity started from the opening minutes, a Darko Matic tackle on Zheng Zheng had Love and renowned instigator Dai Lin in the Croatian’s face, the first of many handbag incidents during the match. The first goal would come quickly after that and let the air out of the stadium, a Jin Jingdao cross found Han Peng, who headed it in the path of Love, all alone in the middle, for a nice goal. However, this was the first of many bad decisions as Shandong’s Walter Montillo was offside on the play.
Beijing Guoan 0Shandong Luneng 3
Vagner Love 9′, 67′, 82′
The referee made a faitful decision that would change the entire match in the 17th minute. Dai first attempted to take out Joffre Guerron’s legs, but the Ecuodorian made it back onto his feet, then Dai tried to kick at Guerron’s feet, before finally throwing an elbow his way as he was sandwiched between two Shandong defenders. Three chances to call a foul all missed by the referee and when an angry Guerron struck out at Dai, though whether there was contact or it was just play acting on Dai’s part is hard to tell. The referee’s decision was speedy, a straight red for the Guoan striker. It brought back painful memories of last season’s match at Hongkou, Dai’s instigation leading to an Andre Lima red card.
Down by one and without their key striker, it was always going to be an uphill battle for the capital side. The Beijingers were able to mount a number of solid attacks, but they always petered out in the end without a serious challenge to Wang Dalei. Then nearing the 70th minute, in what was a painful repeat of the midweek match against Sanfrecce, a low cross came in from the left and in a foot race between Xu Yunlong and Love, the Brazilian was never going to lose, one touching it past Yang Zhi to double his tally.
Dai would play a prominent role one more time, blatantly taking a few kicks at Pablo Batalla, though the referee was indifferent to the incident. Guoan continued pushing forward despite being a man down and came close a number of times, but any hope of a point was dashed when Love chipped Yang to complete his hat trick in the 83rd minute.
Despite the added players in the offseason, Guoan looked to be severely missing something with injuries to both Zhang Xinxin and Zhang Chengdong. Also, Zhou Ting appeared every bit of his 35 years (if not older), leading many to ask when we’ll see Li Yunqiu in the lineup.
Things don’t get easier for Manzano’s men as they now travel to Seoul for a must win ACL match against FC Seoul on Wednesday