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Worker’s Stadium Ramblings: Derby day comeback allows Guoan to give chase

The atmosphere in Worker’s Stadium was electric on Saturday night as over 47,000 green faithful came out to support their side in the Jing-jin derby and Beijing Guoan took all three points from their “local” rivals. Yet another impressive win for the Men in Green as they try to keep pace with Guangzhou Evergrande, who were also victorious though needed the referee’s help to win.

Comfortable coming from behind?

Over the last few years of Guoan football, when the side goes down the best a fan could hope for is that they can level the match. Comeback victories could be counted on a single hand, but all the sudden the side has become comfortable chasing the match. They did it last week at Jiangsu and once again last weekend, Tianjin opened up scoring with a beautiful free kick, but the Beijingers were the ones that walked away with the win. It should be mentioned that in both matches Guoan went down first despite having controlled the run of play. Also, very importantly, Guoan had an instantaneous response to Tianjin’s opening goal, once again it was Dejan and Erton’s excellent adventure as they combined (along side Zhang Xizhe) to shock Teda. Fejzullahu added another in the second half to once again help the cause and Tianjin going down to 10 men late in the match solidified a “derby” victory. The win means Guoan is still in the hunt for the league title as the season enters the final five matches.

Is Yang Zhi bored in goal?
Yang has been the first choice shot stopper in the capital since 2005 and is quickly approaching his 300th match in a Guoan kit. He’s no longer in the national team setup despite being arguably the league’s top keeper and over the last few seasons, it seems he gets bored in goal. Two seasons ago he took a penalty for the club and he regularly feels free to move outside of his box and play a Manuel Neuer “sweeper keeper” style position, but Saturday brought that to a new level. Appearing to have caught the Tianjin players sleeping, Yang put the ball down and charged up the field, crossing the midfield line before being dispossesed of the ball. Yang’s ball distribution skills always make Guoan a threat to go on a quick counter, but perhaps its time for him to get a little more conservative, this was a real head scratcher.

Avoiding a Liaoning loss
The national day holiday next week means that Sunday is a workday and most Guoan fans will be denied a weekend of seafood and sun soccer in Panjin. Guoan will travel north in hopes of keeping their win streak going and to that end will have Darko Matic available after serving a one match suspension. Fans will be hoping to avoid a heart stopper like when Liaoning came to Gongti earlier in the season, Guoan needing an extra time penalty to come away with the win. While the new and improved Beijing should have an easier time finding goals, Liaoning has continued to struggle to stay in the top flight, despite adding Derick Ogbu, who has provided five goals since arriving at the end of July. James Chamanga is also on a roll, having scored nine goals already is one short of topping his personal best. The pair are the main reason Liaoning has won three out of the last four (the exception? A 0-6 pounding at the hands of Evergrande). Nobody expects the visiting Beijingers to deliver such a statement victory, but three points are a must in this one.

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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