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Zizao spoils Harbin’s happy day

After waiting 20 years for their first top flight pro team, fans in Harbin came out in large number to watch their sides’ first CSL match, but Beijing Guoan’s Chen Zhizhao made them wait longer before they can see their club earn a point in the CSL.


Harbin Yiteng 0

Beijing Guoan 1
Chen Zhizhao 43′

Attendance: 27,765

Chen’s goal came just before the half and was his first for Beijing (all the more exciting for him because his father made the trip from Beijing for the match), though it certainly wasn’t the prettiest of his career. The “setup” came when a Pablo Batalla shot hit a Harbin defender and Zhang Xizhe tracked it down in the box and slipped it to Chen, whose shot hit the post and bounced in. While up until that point Guoan was dominating possession, they weren’t creating too many chances and Harbin looked dangerous from time to time.

That would be the story of the entire night, Guoan failed to create anything dangerous in the offensive end while Harbin  would push forward creating heart stopping moments for Beijing fans, but they would rarely amount to much. The best chance of the half came near the hour mark, Peter Utaka put together a few moves, the most active and impressive thing he’s done in recent memory, then crossed to Batalla, whose shot ended in the side netting.

Once again it was a result that went against Harbin that probably shouldn’t have, however credit where it’s due, the home side never stopped fighting. Appropriate in light of the massive tifo from Harbin’s south stand supporter’s section which read “better to die fighting”. It seems the fans know what their likely fate is, but won’t go down easily, much like their players. It will have to be seen if Harbin is good enough to stay up or not, but if their fans can stick with their team, they’ll have moments of joy as the year goes on.

Of note was an incident going into the locker room at halftime which appeared to involve a number of Guoan players, most notably Xu Yunlong and Piao Cheng, and the referee. With what we’ve seen from the CSL lately, and in light of the incident in the Guangzhou R&F-Dalian Aerbin match involving the referee and Chen Tao, it wouldn’t be surprising if we see some suspensions come from this.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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