Left pleasantly humbled by a complete reversal of the prediction of a 0-3 defeat, Xihu Insider looks back at a pulsating round 26 victory over Jiangsu Suning before Greentown head to Guangzhou to take on an R&F side with little to play for as the climax of the season approaches.
Home fans can’t believe their eyes as Greentown dispatch second placed Jiangsu Suning with aplomb
While another international break has come and gone and China once again find themselves manager-less, even the national team’s woes will have done little to wipe the smile from the face of Hangzhou Greentown fans following the unexpected 3-0 drubbing of high flying Jiangsu Suning.
Inspired by Anselmo Ramon’s brace, Greentown produced the performance of the season to secure a deserved and equally crucial three points. With Luo Jing exhibiting form reminiscent of early season and Sammir dominating in all areas of the midfield against his parent club, Greentown prevailed in what was far from a smash and grab raid most would expect from a casual glance at the results.
A disciplined defensive display laid the foundations for a potent attacking performance in what was a refreshing change from a Greentown side who far too often struggle to find the net. Growing increasingly frustrated, Jiangsu failed to fashion any clear cut chances of their own as Greentown launched a series of counter attacks. Having spurned a golden chance for a hat-trick in the 67th minute, the points were in the bag by the time the talismanic Ramon lay on a delectable pass for substitute Cheng Mouyi to volley home in the dying moments to secure Greentown’s first win at Huanglong since June.
With fans of both sides rubbing their eyes in disbelieve of what they had just seen, Greentown’s attention turned to events in Shijiazhuang where the home side had come out on top in a five goal thriller against fellow relegation candidates Changchun Yatai, a result which means Greentown go into round 27 with a five point cushion over the relegation places.
History is on their side but do Greentown have what it takes?
Currently sitting on 29 points with four games remaining, the five point gap between themselves and fifteenth placed Shijiazhuang offers just enough for Greentown fans to believe they will survive yet another season scrapping at the foot of the table.
With a total of 31, 30 and 32 being enough to secure survival for the fourteenth placed team in 2015, 2014 and 2013 respectively, if history is anything to go by, one more win and Greentown should be safe.
However, 2016’s CSL, in the bottom half of the table at least is one of the closest yet. The absence of a team finishing well adrift of the pack as seen in recent years through Wuhan Zall, Harbin Yiteng and in 2015, Shanghai Shenxin means a run of late season form for either Shijiazhuang or Changchun could see them propel themselves to safety. Despite a tough run of fixtures ahead, Greentown should have enough in the tank in a relegation battle which could well come down to the final round’s home tie with Yanbian Funde.
International break over, Greentown head to Guangzhou to take on R&F
ACL qualification out of reach yet finding themselves far enough away from the drop, Guangzhou R&F are a side who have little to play for in terms of league position. A recent record featuring a 3-1 away loss to Changchun indicates vulnerability but with Zahavi proving to be one of the signings of the season and scoring goals aplenty, most recently in a 2-0 win at home to Henan Jianye, R&F will be considered favourites.
Don’t fix what’s not broken and therefore injuries aside, it would be surprising to see Greentown make any major changes they look to recreate the chemistry and cohesion from the win against Jiangsu. Without an away win since Ramon popped up late to secure a 0-1 win to Changchun in July, a win would appear unlikely for Greentown. Changchun and Shijiazhuang both have tough home games, facing Guangzhou Evergrande and Beijing Guoan respectively, meaning another unlikely win this week could finally put Greentown’s relegation fears to bed. Despite that for motivation, another surprise win is improbable and therefore I’m going for Greentown to secure a 1-1 draw. Feel free to prove me wrong again guys!