Elkeson scored his second perfect hat-trick for Guangzhou Evergrande to send him back to the top of the CSL goalscoring charts (level with Shanghai East Asia’s Tobias Hysen) and his team three points clear of Beijing Guoan at the summit of the league.
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 12
Hangzhou Greentown 1
Anselmo Ramon 55’
Guangzhou Evergrande 4
Rene Junior 6′, Elkeson 22′, 81′, 90′
Hangzhou started only three of the players who featured the last time these teams played at Tianhe last October, a reflection of the wholesale changes that occured over the winter at the Yangtze River Delta club. However while they certainly looked more dangerous in attack this time around, with the on-form Anselmo Ramon especially impressive, they still ended up again conceding four goals to the Cantonese club.
31 year old central defender Wu Wei was given his first run-out since returning in the off-season from Guizhou Renhe, with young starlet Shi Ke pushed out to the right, but the choice of experience over youth (Zhao Yuhao and Cao Haiqing, 21 and 20, have each been given a number of chances to impress at full-back this season) did nothing to improve a defence that vies with Harbin’s for leakiest in the division.
Guangzhou fielded a strong side, with only the suspended Zhang Linpeng and injured Muriqui absent among the usual first teamers. After consecutive 1-0 losses in their last two games (against Guangzhou R+F and Cerezo Osaka), the champions were in determined form here and scored in the first attack of the game after six minutes.
Kim Young-Gwon launched the ball forward from deep for Alessandro Diamanti to neatly flick onto Gao Lin in the box, with the Chinese international laying it on for the surprisingly prolific Rene Junior to slot past Gu Cao. It was a lovely move but Hangzhou were carved open far too easily.
Chen Zhongliu rattled the crossbar with a blistering wallop from outside the box ten minutes after the opener, but with Hangzhou mostly staying deep it was always more likely that the visitors would get the next one, and it came mid-way through the half.
Huang Bowen nodded a cross into the box for Elkeson to stab his right leg at, and although Shi got back to clear the scuffed ball, it had already crossed the line. The Brazilian stuffed the ball under his jersey to celebrate the announcement of his partner’s pregnancy.
Gao Lin had a great chance to extend the lead just before half time when the ball came to him in space at the edge of the box after a long, long spell of Evergrande possession but he blasted over. With Chen’s shot being Hangzhou’s only one of the opening 45 minutes, Guangzhou looked to be cruising for victory, but they eased off in the second half and allowed their opponents back into the game.
Ten minutes after the restart, Shi launched a hopeful early cross into Ramon alone in the box. His marker Feng Xiaoting collapsed all too easily as they tussled for the ball, giving the winter arrival from Cruzeiro the opportunity to score his seventh in the past six appearances. The again underwhelming Rong Hao was immediately replaced in the away defence by Mei Fang, but Hangzhou kept the pressure up for the next 25 minutes or so.
A deflected Wang Lin shot hit the bar again in the 64th minute, and Davy Angan caused plenty of trouble after replacing Gilberto Macena. A few scrambles in the box came to nothing however, and when Liao Lisheng, on for Diamanti, crossed for Elkeson to head home unchallenged in a packed box with ten minutes to go the contest was over.
Substitute Zhao Xuri hit the Hangzhou crossbar before Elkeson completed a rare perfect hat-trick (which he’d previously managed in only his second league appearance for Evergrande) with a swerving strike from his left foot just as the game reached injury time.
Ramon was harshly denied a consolation second by the offside flag right at the end, but striking talent like himself and Angan can only do so much if their colleagues at the other end of the pitch are not up to scratch; it’s clear where Jack Ma’s money needs to be spent most urgently if the Zhejiang club are to start competing with the CSL big boys.
Guangzhou next host Guizhou Renhe on Wednesday while Hangzhou travel to face Evergrande’s main rivals for the title and the team they play in their final game before the summer break, Beijing Guoan.
Hangzhou Greentown: 1 Gu Cao; 5 Shi Ke, 32 Wu Wei, 6 Son Dae-Ho, 22 Wang Lin; 30 Luka Zinko, 14 Feng Gang, 2 Zhuang Jiajie, 8 Chen Zhongliu, 7 Gilberto Macena; 9 Anselmo Ramon
Subs: 12 Luo Jing (for 8 Chen Zhongliu 60′), 20 Davy Angan (for 7 Gilberto Macena 63′), 4 Zang Yifeng (for 2 Zhuang Jiajie 75′)
Guangzhou Evergrande: 19 Zeng Cheng; 32 Sun Xiang, 28 Kim Young-Gwon, 6 Feng Xiaoting, 33 Rong Hao; 10 Zheng Zhi, 8 Rene Junior, 16 Huang Bowen; 29 Gao Lin, 23 Alessandro Diamanti, 9 Elkeson
Subs: 3 Mei Fang (for 33 Rong Hao 56’), 2 Liao Lisheng (for 23 Alessandro Diamanti 68’), 37 Zhao Xuri (for 16 Huang Bowen 84’)