Guangzhou tops Shenhua to win Super Cup
GUANGZHOU Evergrande clinched its first victory of the new season by beating Shanghai Greenland Shenhua 4-1 at Hongkou Football Stadium last night to win the CFA Super Cup.
“I’m happy not only with the score, but also the maturity our players showed, as they were not affected by playing in an away stadium,” said Guangzhou manager Fabio Cannavaro after the club’s fourth Super Cup title. “The players controlled the whole match well. I keep telling my players to stay hungry for victories and glories (and they did so).”
“Both sides worked hard,” said Cannavaro’s counterpart Wu Jingui. “Our players were not as good as the opponents with regards to personal ability. But I believe they, especially the young players, will improve after experiences like this.”
The match also saw the Chinese Football Association’s new Under-23 player regulation put into use.
According to the new rule, the number of U23 players each team sends for each match shall be no fewer than the number of foreign players — the limitation for foreign players is three for each match. Also, at least one U23 player should start for the match — same as last season.
Shenhua started with its regular foreign trio of Giovanni Moreno, Fredy Guarin and Obafemi Martins.
Martins was an active presence for Shenhua upfront, the Nigerian striker creating two one-on-one chances in the first 25 minutes, but he could not beat Guangzhou goalkeeper Liu Dianzuo.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring in the 26th minute. A shot from midfielder Huang Bowen from the top of the box went past the flailing arm of a fully stretched Shenhua goalie Li Shuai, who got a touch but couldn’t stop it.
Shenhua almost equalized in the 34th when Colombian midfielder Guarin’s direct free kick 60 yards from the Guangzhou goal went just over the bar.
Two minutes later, Shenhua managed a breakthrough from midfield, creating a four-against-two chance in Guangzhou’s box, with Guarin netting the equalizer.
In the 43rd, Alan Carvalho seized on a one-on-one chance in the box to put Evergrande back ahead before the half-time break.
Cannavaro’s team could have enlarged the advantage at the beginning of the second half but for goalie Li who blocked a point-blank header from Guangzhou’s Brazilian striker Ricardo Goulart.
But Li could not stop a long-range shot by national striker Gao Lin in the 65th, which gave Evergrande a 3-1 lead.
The score changed again in the 90th when Shenhua U23 midfielder Li Xiaoming, who came on as a substitute in the second half, fouled Carvalho in the box. Goulart scored from the resulting penalty to seal Evergrande’s emphatic win.
Shenhua’s third U23 player Liu Ruofan was sent onto the pitch in the 76th. Guangzhou’s two U23 substitutions were made in the 67th and 88th respectively.
While Cannavaro said the new U23 policy created some difficulty for him when planning his squad, Wu praised the performance of his U23 trio.
“(Twentyone-year-old midfielder) Cong Zhen played a good 90-minute match. Li Xiaoming almost scored from a corner. Liu Ruofan was not given enough time, but he is a capable player. Being able to handle pressure in an important match like this was important,” Wu said.
The Super Cup pits the CSL defending champion (Guangzhou) against the CFA Cup winner (Shenhua).
Both teams will now shift their attention to the CSL which kicks off at the weekend. Shenhua takes on Changchun Yatai at Hongkou on Friday, when Evergrande also faces Guangzhou R&F.