So the game took place yesterday with more police than away fans present, despite rumours circulating on social media that employees of some GZ-based companies would be offered dinner and Eastern replica-shirts to fill up the away section.
As expected, Evergrande dominated proceedings from the very first kick and, as Eastern were reduced to 10 men when Wong Tsz-ho stopped a shot using his hand and Ricardo Goulart converted from the spot within the first five minutes, the question was no more wheather the visitors would pull of a miracle and bring a point back to Hong Kong, but rather how big the difference between the sides would be.
It took just over half an hour for the hosts to get to 3 goals ahead, even though Alan had deservedly been denied by Yapp from a ridiculous run-up to Evergrandes second penalty of the game.
At 33 minutes played, insult was added to injury, when the Australian referee displayed some shockingly poor judgement to show Wong Chi-chung his second yellow of the night, neither of which looked clear cut. After that the question was suddenly if Evergrande would win it with a double-digit margin or not. Anyway Eastern got through the rest of the first half without conceding again.
Within a couple of minutes of the second half Evergrande had managed both to extend their lead and have one goal disallowed. The giants really went gung-ho in their search for more goals, making the game no more exciting than any other time a big team crushes a much less experienced opponent, and at the final whistle the scoreboard said 7-0.
Evergrande were impressive and handled the game ruthlessly and professionally given the circumstances. Eastern fought to the best of their abilities but faced with the quality, especially from Evergrandes Brazilian star-trio (Ricardo Goulart, Alan and Paulinho) the outcome would, most likely, have been more or less the same, even without the red cards.
The most interesting thing that happened was really the situation where Alan went down and appealed for a third penalty. The tackle was firm but fair and Alan got up on his his knees, turned to the referee, waved for a signal, then went back down and rolled screaming in three different directions despite, obvisouly, not being injured. With the penalty-debacle in the first half, the Brazilian would have had quite embarrasing night, but as he scored the best goal of the game (a great cut-in and strike from outside the box to make it 5-0) he could still leave the pitch with his head held high.