Lots of games, lots of Koreans. How’d they do? Check it out.
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*Watch this space for more details on some of these matches from the Tavern owner*
Jae’s Watching this Weekend Match
FC Seoul vs Guangzhou Evergrande
There were some fears that this match may have been a bit dull. Either because both sides would be very cautious in a two-legged tie, or because Guangzhou would overpower a Seoul-side that was suffering a bit from poor form, suspensions, and injuries. However, neither proved to be true, with Seoul and Guangzhou providing a thoroughly entertaining match at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Guangzhou sent out their strongest XI, which is basically half of the Chinese national team plus four talented foreigners, including Korean international Kim Young-Gwon. Seoul put out a quality side, but with a small reshuffle in the backline to accommodate the suspension of Cha Du-Ri. Since they’ve already done it quite well, check out Soccerway’s page on the game, to see the formation and exact starting line ups.
The game started out fast, and largely set the pace (for the first half at least). Guangzhou dominated proceedings from the go. Seoul had trouble dealing with Guangzhou’s pressure, and routinely coughed up possession quickly. Despite that, Guangzhou wasn’t creating too many clear chances, and indeed Seoul made them pay. A quickly taken free kick saw the Guangzhou defense go to sleep, and Escudero, the strange player with Argentinian parents, who was born in Spain, but is a Japanese international, scored to put the hosts up 1-0.
The goal seemed to shock the visitors, and provide maybe a bit too much comfort to the hosts. Guangzhou started to really control the game, with Seoul sitting far too deep for my comfort. Eventually it paid off, and Guangzhou got a much deserved equalizer. The Brazilian Elkeson was the scorer from a set piece. The Seoul defense switching off for just a moment. Seoul captain Ha Dae-Sung just for a moment letting Elkeson get a step away from him. Guangzhou continued to press forward for the go ahead goal, but couldn’t find it before the break.
Those concerns of a Guangzhou blow out, crept back in as the second half began. Memories of their prior knockout tie away legs against Kashiwa Reysol and Lekhwiya, where Guangzhou went down a goal first, but then stormed back to win 4-1. Seoul continued to sit a bit deep at the beginning of the second half, but gradually started to play more. But then, another defensive lapse cost the side. A cross from Huang Bowen wasn’t properly dealt with by Kim Ju-Young, who was only able to pop it up across the face of goal. Sun Xiang drilled the ball back in, and Gao Lin got a foot on it to redirect it into goal. Kim’s centerback partner, Kim Jin-Kyu was caught ball watching, and had let Gao Lin go unmarked.
That led to an exciting last 30 minutes of the match. Guangzhou looked for the killer third goal, while Seoul desperately needed at least a draw to take into China in two weeks time. It was up and down stuff with both teams having some chances. A second goal would come, and it was Seoul’s star man, Dejan Damjanovic, who tied things up. Escudero, who was probably Seoul’s best player, pulled the ball back from the wing, Dejan controlled and managed to keep his balance just enough to shoot past Zeng Cheng. Seoul almost managed to get the winner as Dejan had one more chance to score right at the end, but couldn’t quite finish. The match ended 2-2.
Overall, it was a very exciting match, and certainly a wonderful advert for Asian football. It was positive, attacking football from both sides (at least in the second half), and there was no real animosity from either side. No one displayed poor sportsmanship, there was no pushing and shoving, no diving, or cynical play. In short, it was not just a wonderful advert for Asian football, but a wonderful advert for football in general. The result will certainly suit Guangzhou, who will feel confident about getting a result in two weeks time, but Seoul will feel they have the quality to put a scare into their Chinese hosts as well.
Will Cha be available for the second leg of the AFC final?
Yes, he was suspended just for one game I believe, for picking up yellows in both legs of the semifinals.