As Guangzhou R&F prepare to host Shandong on Saturday, Yuexiushan News looks back at the three games the blue and whites have played over the past 70 days or so.
Guangzhou R&F 2 – 2 Shanghai SIPG
A white booted foreigner scores a rocket of an equaliser in stoppage time. Zahavi strikes again? No, 34 year old centre back Duško Tošić take a bow. The SIPG defence completely failed to deal with Chen Zhizhao’s hopeful ball as Tošić outmuscled one defender before turning inside another and firing past Yan Junling.
Despite Xiao Zhi marking his first start of the season with a goal, R&F looked like they were heading for defeat going into the closing moments. Oscar missed a brilliant chance to seal the win for SIPG and was made to regret it as Tošić put a major dent in the Shanghai side’s bid to retain their title.
Shenzhen 4 – 0 Guangzhou R&F
Before the absurdly long break for the preliminary rounds of World Cup qualifying – just how worried were China about the Maldives? – the blue and whites got thumped by Shenzhen in the Guangdong derby. R&F conceded three penalties and had two defenders sent off.
The referee calling what Jiang Jihong did late in the first half a penalty, let alone a red card, was harsh. That said, the blue and whites can’t blame the referee for changing the game because Shenzhen looked the better team before the red card.
However dubious the call against Jiang was, there was nothing controversial about the referee’s decisions over Tošić’s mistimed lunge (penalty two), rugby tackle (penalty three) and back-chat (red card two). Tošić clearly felt aggrieved by the second penalty but he was guilty of something. Either of actually rugby tackling Preciado or, despite his vast experience, allowing Preciado to make it look like Tošić rugby tackled him.
The final goal really rubbed salt into the wounds. There were six blue and white shirts in the box to mark four Shenzhen players so naturally Dyego Sousa jumped unchallenged to score. Yi Teng was guilty of letting the forward get away from him.
Guangzhou R&F 2 – 1 Tianjin Tianahi
In early September, fans were treated to a domestic break in the international (non)action with the visit of Tianjin Tianhai.
It says something about your ability as a player when you are the 5th choice centre back in the worst defensive team in a league where many sides have poor defences. Unfortunately for Jin Pengxiang, it doesn’t say anything good. Nor were the fans in the stands at Yuexiushan saying anything good about Jin as his error let Tianhai in for the opener. Huang Zhengyu’s poor pass gave away possession but there didn’t look to be much danger – Jin was well positioned. He was going to make the interception. Tianhai were not going to score. Until Jin slipped. And then he wasn’t, he didn’t and they did. Yang Xu profiting for Tianhai, showing that it’s not only international teams with weak defences he scores against.
Thankfully for R&F, Tianhai returned the error. Goalkeeper Zhang Lu let Zahavi’s header squirm away from him but still ended up on the floor clutching the ball. Unfortunately for Zhang, he was behind his own line at this point. That made it 1-1 at halftime.
The beautiful game
R&F’s Israeli duo each had a goal ruled out for offside and it looked like the game would end in a draw. Eran Zahavi had other ideas though. His teammates poured forward looking for the winner and it arrived in spectacular style.
There is a moment where it looks like it won’t happen . It seems that Tang Miao’s pull-back is too far behind Zahavi. He rescues it though, and then seems set to try and bend the ball in with his left foot. He does bend it in, but not with his left. A game winning rabona in the 90th minute. Incredible. Zahavi has scored more goals for the Cantonese than anyone else and the rabona was his most spectacular. If you’re about to go a month without watching your team play – can’t be too careful with the national team preparations for powerhouses Guam and the Phillipines – that goal is not a bad thing to remember.
The Cantonese missed out on playing in matchday 25 away at Beijing Renhe because of the need to avoid any large crowds in the capital before the 70th anniversary celebrations. Yes, you just read ‘Beijing Renhe’ and ‘large crowds’ in the same sentence. (A bit rich given average crowds at Yuexiushan, but opportunities to make a terrible joke like that don’t come along often.)
With six games of the season to go , R&F’s points total is almost as close to 7th as it is to 13th. Looking at the remaining fixtures, the Cantonese will do well to end the season in the upper reaches of mid-table. There are four away games – not a traditional strength for R&F – and the two home games are against current top four sides Shandong and Guoan.
Shandong visit Yuexiushan on Saturday, before the Cantonese travel to Hebei and then the capital for the re-arranged game against Renhe. None of the teams can say they’ve not had enough time to prepare.