Beijing Guoan withstand late Shanghai Shenhua surge to move five points clear
Updated 17:46, 15-Jun-2019

Beijing Guoan temporarily moved five points clear at the top of the 2019 Chinese Super League (CSL) after a 2-1 win over strugglers Shanghai Shenhua in the day's early evening fixture, though a late rally from the away side threatened to deny Guoan their 12th win from 13 CSL games so far this season.

With Guoan topping the CSL table before kickoff, and Shenhua languishing just above the relegation zone, pre-match form had the hosts as heavy favorites, and they set out their stall to attack from the off, with striker Wang Ziming going close in only the 2nd minute after charging down an attempted clearance.

Roared on by a boisterous home crowd in good voice, Guoan continued to press high up the pitch, and were rewarded for their endeavor in the 15th minute, after some slack Shenhua defending allowed Guoan midfielder Piao Cheng in to make it 1-0 with a simple finish past goalkeeper Chen Zhao.

Clearly keen to press home their advantage, Guoan were good value for their lead, with Shenhua struggling to cope with their long balls over the top to Wang Ziming and marauding right-back Wang Gang.

The away side seemed largely content to soak up pressure and try to hit Guoan on the break, and almost equalized late in the half after the Guoan defense lost possession in a dangerous area, but keeper Zou Dehai saved well from Qian Jiegei's powerful strike.

Shenhua were left to rue their profligacy minutes later, when Guoan midfielder Renato Augusto, who had been making driving runs from deep all half, unleashed an unstoppable shot from distance that flew past Chen to put the home side 2-0 up at the interval.

Beijing Guoan continue their fearsome form in CSL as they snatch 6th consecutive win at home. /VCG Photo

Beijing Guoan continue their fearsome form in CSL as they snatch 6th consecutive win at home. /VCG Photo

The second half began in much the same fashion as the first had ended, with Wang Ziming and defender Li Lei going close for Guoan within a few minutes of the restart.

Still two goals behind, there was a greater sense of urgency around Shenhua's play as they sought to reduce the arrears, and substitute Wu Zizhen drew a smart save from Zou before Wang Ziming almost made it 3-0 to Guoan at the other end, denied only by a desperate goalline clearance from Shenhua defender Li Peng.

But just when it appeared that the game would peter out as a contest, Shenhua pulled a goal back out of nothing as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, as Wu fired in to make it 2-1 after a Guoan failed to clear a corner.

What had previously been a fairly comfortable afternoon for Guoan suddenly looked a lot more fraught, and a few Guoan hearts were in mouths a couple of minutes later when Shenhua midfielder Fredy Guarin's shot was narrowly deflected wide, but ultimately the home side were able to see out the game to record their 12th win in 13 games in 2019.

The result sees Beijing Guoan extend their lead at the top of the CSL to 36 points, while Shenhua drop into the relegation zone in 15th place with just nine points to their name.

Guoan's next match is at home to Guangzhou R&F on June 22, while Shenhua travel to Jiangsu Suning the previous day.

"We want to keep this record as long as we can, and put some pressure on every opposing team coming here to play against us, so that they will feel a little bit afraid to face Guoan," said Beijing Guoan’s defender Yu Yang. 

"We don't think about them, you know, we just focus on what we have to do. We take one game at a time and, you know, we just focus on what we need to do and, you know, we look ahead of us. We don't look behind us," said the midfielder Li Ke. 

(CGTN Sports Scene also contributed to the story.) 

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency