A piece of skill and a lucky deflection gave Shandong Luneng a second minute lead which their defence protected for the remainder of the game thanks to a combination of ruthless counterattacks, more than a little sportsmanship and the luck of the football gods. Two goals and an assist from Cantonese youngster Liu Binbin push Shandong up to third and R&F down to fourth.
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 13
Guangzhou R&F 1
Abderazzak Hamdallah 32′
Shandong Luneng 3
Liu Binbin 2’, 78’, Lu Zheng 24’
R&F welcomed back Jang Hyun-Soo and Jiang Zhipeng from injuries and Zhu Baojie continued in central midfield with Park Jong-Woo away with the South Korea squad. There has been little love for Shandong boss Cuca in the papers and there was no Love on the team sheet either, the Brazilian’s injury meaning Lu Zheng started in attack.
An electric guitar and amp had made their way into the Yuexiushan stands but any hope generated by the Canto-pop classics being played before kick-off was wiped out inside two minutes. Zhang Zhao tricked his way between Jiang Zhipeng and Chang Feiya and his cross looped up off Zhu Boajie before Liu Binbin arrived to prod home. Cue whole squad celebrations with Cuca on the touchline.
The blue and whites could’ve equalised almost immediately but Zhang Yuan shot wide from a corner. Hamdallah’s policy of going down under even the slightest contact wasn’t paying off and Shandong took advantage of this to double their lead. The ball was spread to Liu whose pace took him inside Tang Miao and past Jang and then allowed him to roll the ball back for Lu Zheng to beat Cheng Yuelei from just inside the area.
In Zhang Chi, Chang Feiya came up against a defender as lightening quick as he is so swapped wings with Zhang Yuan and the move quickly paid off. A mazy Chang run brought a shot on goal but it was Zhang’s deflected shot that fell to Hamdallah to turn inside the box and score his tenth of the campaign.
Shandong had been content to play defensively and pounce on R&F mistakes and swarm up-field on the counter and were aided in this by the constant niggling fouls, 31 in all, they committed which prevented the Cantonese building any momentum. Nevertheless, Hamdallah managed two efforts on target in quick succession but both were saved by Wang Dalei; one of the CSL’s best goalkeepers and definitely the best time waster.
The second half was even more one sided as, with Wang Xiaolong on for the ineffective Ken Islo, it almost became a case of attack versus defence but crucially for Shandong, luck was on their side. R&F didn’t struggle to create chances but couldn’t finish any of them; Hamdallah, Davi, Chang and Wang were all guilty of missing opportunities that on another day they’d have scored.
When Shandong scored again it was from an R&F mistake. Jang, who looked rusty on his return, stepped out of central defence and carried the ball unopposed into the middle of the Shandong half before being dispossessed by Jin Jingdao. 20 year old Liu, from Guangdong, showed the R&F forwards how it should be done as he kept his composure after being played through by Jin to beat the advancing Cheng and seal the victory to the delight of the loud away following.
Even now R&F weren’t done and Davi somehow missed with a free header from the back post before sub Lu Lin had a chip shot and header saved by Wang. The referee showed all the backbone of a dead centipede in refusing to book Wang for timewasting despite repeatedly warning him and also not sending Zhu Baojie off after the R&F midfielder had a yelling match with him and threw the ball away in disgust after already having been booked.
Guangzhou R&F cannot blame the referee though as they created plenty of chances but luck wasn’t smiling on them as they repeatedly wasted great opportunities. There is little time for the squad to reflect on their second consecutive defeat before Sunday’s game away in Harbin.
Shandong showed little in patient attacking play, preferring rapid counterattacks and spoiling tactics in midfield but it paid off and Cuca’s team, who made it clear that they back the Brazilian, are now third in the table.
Guangzhou R & F: 1 – Cheng Yuelei; 20 – Tang Miao 15 – Jang Hyun-Soo 5 – Zhang Yaokun11 – Jiang Zhipeng; 21 – Chang Feiya (82 minutes 29 – Zhang Shuo), 10 – Davi, 36 – Zhu Baojie 18 – Zhang Yuan (59 minutes 23 – Lu Lin); 9 – Abderrazak Hamdallah, 27 – Ken Ilso (46 minutes 19 – Wang Xiaolong)
Shandong Luneng: 25 – Wang Dalei; 19 – Zhang Chi (73 minutes 28 – Hao Junmin), 35 – Dai Lin 3 – Du Wei 16 – Zheng Zheng (18 minutes 6 – Zhao Jian); 15 – Junior Urso 33 – Jin Jingdao; 13 – Zhang Zhao, 30 – Walter Montillo, 21 – Liu Binbin; 24 – Lu Zheng (66 minutes 9 – Han Peng)