The credibility of Shanghai East Asia’s continental aspirations was further undermined on Tuesday night as they shipped five against a back on form Guangzhou Evergrande. One win in their last four had seen the early pace-setters already drop out of the the qualification places, but few were expecting them to hand the reigning champions their best result of the season so far, especially after only losing 1-0 in this fixture last year.
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 9
Guangzhou Evergrande 5
Elkeson 33′ 90+3′, Muriqui 51′, Zhao Xuri 64′, Rene Junior 80′
Shanghai East Asia 0
To be fair such an outcome looked implausible in an opening hour in which East Asia struggled manfully to maintain a foothold in the contest under rain heavy enough to have delayed the Evergrande squad’s arrival. However they were mostly restricted to optimistic punts from distance, testing Zeng Cheng in the home goal just once all game, and by the time they conceded the third all hope and motivation had visibly left them.
Guangzhou had had a number of chances before they took the lead, with Diamanti missing the target three times and Dong Xuesheng heading wide from a great chipped through ball from the Italian international 24 minutes in. The ex-Dalian man was involved in the opener shortly after the half hour, passing to Elkeson who took advantage of a lucky glance of the ball off Ransford Addo’s leg to break through the packed Shanghai defence and chip over the onrushing Yan Junling.
View from Shanghai East Asia correspondent Andy Strong
It was a case of pathetic fallacy for Shanghai East Asia at Tianhe on Wednesday night (pathetic perhaps being the operative word), as a torrential Guangzhou downpour set the scene for a deluge of Evergrande attacks. The side’s rather dismal away form hit a new low as an abject defensive display – again allowing their opponents far too much time and space on the edge of the box – saw them ship five goals to their incisive hosts. The visitors rarely looked like causing the league leaders any real problems, and chances that did come their way were either snatched at or dithered on, effectively allowing the host’s ever-efficient defence the night off.
East Asia may look at the absence of Cai Huikang and Daniel McBreen – both serving one-match suspensions for accumulating 4 yellow cards so far this season – as important factors in explaining such a poor performance. Nevertheless, with the hosts in simply excellent form, it would be difficult to imagine that the result would have been much different even with the two ever-present players in the side.
The team will now stick around in Guangzhou, as they prepare to face R&F on Sunday. With Sven’s side in impressive home form, netting 13 times in the last 3 games at Yuexiushan, East Asia could face another torrid night at the back if they do not make vast defensive improvements.
The away team’s heads didn’t drop after conceding the first and they continued energetically harrying their opponent’s offense and looking dangerous on the counter for the rest of the half. Lippi made two changes at the interval, bringing on Zhao Xuri and Rong Hao for Huang Bowen and Dong, and while Shanghai came out after the break still looking determined to hold their own, the former was to be instrumental in breaking their resolve.
Five minutes after the restart Zhao took advantage of a free kick that should probably have been awarded against him, quickly launching it through an unprepared East Asia defence for Murqui to run onto and fire past Yan. Zhao then went on to end the contest by capping a period of intense Cantonese pressure with a sweet swerving strike from distance with 25 minutes to go.
Guangzhou played to please themselves for the remainder, with the hugely improved Muriqui a constant menace. The referee generously waved away a couple of stonewall fouls on Elkeson in and around the box, but with morale completely collapsed, it was more a matter of when than if the visitors would concede again.
After four games on the sidelines for missing a finger off a fist, Rene Junior replaced Diamanti with twenty minutes left on the clock and ten minutes later reminded everyone that he had been the team’s top scorer before his suspension with another great goal from outside the box.
There was yet time for further indignity to be showered on the visitors along with the rain, with Fu Huan seeing a second yellow for a stupid foul on Elkeson, who went on to draw level with neighbouring R&F’s Abderrazak Hamdallah in the league top scorer race with a sumptuous fifth in injury time. Going by this showing, Evergrande’s early slump and Shanghai East Asia’s bright start are both distant history.
Guangzhou Evergrande: 19 Zeng Cheng; 32 Sun Xiang, 28 Kim Young-Gwon, 5 Zhang Linpeng; 2 Liao Lisheng, 16 Huang Bowen, 23 Diamanti; 11 Muriqui, 9 Elkeson, 18 Dong Xuesheng
Subs: 37 Zhao Xuri (for 16 Huang Bowen 46’), 33 Rong Hao (for 18 Dong Xuesheng 46’), 8 Rene Junior (for 23 Diamanti 70’)
Shanghai East Asia: 1 Yan Junling; 3 Wu Yuyin, 21 Cuadrado, 25 Ransford Addo, 23 Fu Huan; 7 Wu Lei, 18 Zhang Yi, 4 Wang Shenchao, 11 Lv Wenjun; 9 Tobias Hysen, 12 Li Haowen
Subs: 14 Li Shenglong (for 12 Li Haowen 65′), 15 Lin Chuangyi (for 9 Tobias Hysen 66′), 5 Wang Jiajie (for 18 Zhang Yi 72′)
EDIT: Elkeson’s two goals brought him level with Guangzhou R&F’s Abderrazak Hamdallah in the CSL 2014 top scorer stakes, not one ahead as was originally stated.