Guangzhhou R&F claimed their second victory at Tianhe in three years on Friday night thanks to a second half goal from returning striker Abderazzak Hamdallah. The blue and whites dominated the first half, Elkeson’s penalty miss aside, and took the lead in the second, before the expected Evergrande onslaught emerged. Despite Muriqui and Diamanti’s best efforts the hosts couldn’t equalise and after going unbeaten at home in the 2013 CSL have now lost twice at home in 2014 already.
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 11
Guangzhou Evergrande 0
Guangzhou R&F 1
Abderazzak Hamdallah 59′
After demolishing Cerezo Osaka 5-1 in Japan in midweek, hosts Evergrande made six changes bringing in four players with significant international experience and Rene Junior who has already contributed a number of goals from centre midfield.
Visitors R&F were also unable to field their best XI with Koreans Jang and Park, the latter named in the World Cup squad, out injured and winger Jiang Ning suspended. The blue and whites were finally able to welcome back top-scorer Abderazzak Hamdallah though.
Learning from their mistakes in Beijing, R&F immediately took the game to Evergrande and exploited the space behind Zhang Linpeng to create three chances inside the opening ten minutes but Zhang Yuan headed wide and Hamdallah’s first shot was wild whilst his second was saved.
With almost their first attack Evergrande were awarded a penalty. Elkeson raced down the left touchline, hurdled a sliding Xu Bo and was then brought down in the area by an attempted sliding tackle from Chang Feiya. It was a clear penalty but the Brazilian failed to make the most of it as he sent his spot kick over the angle of post and bar.
R&F were the dominant team in the first half and attacked with purpose. Numerous freekicks and corners were wasted by poor deliveries although Zhang’s shot almost turned a miss-hit cross into a chance. The blue and whites were better from open play and Zeng Cheng was forced to save from Davi and Hamdallah.
Evergrande withdrew Liu Jian after half an hour and moved Zhang to centre back, while Mei Fang came over to the right. R&F continued to attack down this channel and after some nifty footwork from Zhang Yuan inside the area, Ken Islo poked the ball over the bar from six yards out with Zeng nowhere.
The hosts had only seriously threatened on the counter but almost took the lead from their spell of pressure just before half time. Cheng Yuelei could only palm Gao Lin’s cross into the path of Muriqui but his goalbound effort was blocked by Tang Miao.
Lippi brought on Allesandro Diamanti at half time but it was Muriqui again who shot wide after an R&F clearance had been blocked into his path. It was still an open game and Chang Feiya’s pace got the youngster in behind the Evergrande defence but whilst he lobbed Zeng, his chip was cleared by Sun Xiang from a near identical position to Tang’s goal saving clearance just before half-time.
With an almost an hour gone R&F were in danger of ruing their missed opportunities but scored from a classic Xu Bo hoof upfield that Chang’s pace allowed him to collect and then leave Zhang Linpeng standing before slipping the ball through to Hamdallah. The Moroccan’s first touch took him away from Rong Hao and his third sent the ball into the far corner to spark ecstasy in the away end.
Frustration was building for the reds and when Tang nipped in ahead of Muriqui to make another fantastic interception the Brazilian was so angry that the throw in wasn’t given his way that he kicked a water bottle over, sarcastically applauded the referee and got a yellow card. Gao Lin also later saw yellow for arguing with the referee.
Substitute Diamanti was in danger of losing his cool too but the Italian still found it easy to get into space and linked well with his teammates but was several times denied from promising free kick opportunities by excellent full-length diving saves by Cheng.
As the rain stopped Evergrande really turned up the heat in the final twenty minutes and Muriqui’s skill brought him another chance but this time R&F captain Zhang Yaokun blocked the shot. Evergrande threw numbers forward but the press of players outside the R&F box made creating chances difficult as the blue and whites were often able to intercept and clear their lines.
Hamdallah almost sealed victory with a powerful drive that stung Zeng’s hands but the final chance fell yet again to Muriqui and the Brazilian was denied for the last time by Cheng as R&F held out.
Evergrande now have a few days rest before their ACL second leg for which Elkeson could be a doubt having been taken off at half-time and whilst R&F’s first half display will have given Osaka hope of overturning the deficit, the way Evergrande wrestled back the initiative after going behind will send a warning to the J-League side.
Their blistering first half was R&F’s best of the season so far and whilst they made their fans sweat towards the end of the game they will still be confident when they travel away to Guizhou next weekend as they are now unbeaten in a record six CSL games.
Guangzhou Evergrande:19 – Zeng Cheng; 3 – Mei Fang (46 minutes 24 – Liu Haidong), 6 – Feng Xiaoting, 17 – Liu Jian (36 minutes 32 – Sun Xiang), 5 – Zhang Linpeng 8 – Rene Junior 16 – Huang Bowen, 33 – Rong Hao, 29 – Gao Lin, 9 – Elkeson (46 minutes 23 – Diamanti), 11 – Muriqui
Guangzhou R & F: 1 – Cheng Yuelei;20 – Tang Miao, 6 – Xu Bo, 5 – Zhang Yaokun, 11 – Jiang Zhipeng, 21 – Chang Feiya (82 minutes 23 – Lu Lin), 10 – Davi, 36 – Zhu Baojie 18 – Zhang Yuan (73 minutes 19 – Wang Xiaolong),9 – Abderazzak Hamdallah, 27 – Ken Ilso(85 minutes 37 – Feng Zhuoyi)