Jiangsu Suning, who’ve been just as great in the AFC Champions League as they’ve been awful in the Chinese Super League (1 measly point from four matches) this year, were handed a dream of an opening to the match against Gamba Osaka when the visitor’s skipper, Yasuhito Endo, handed Alex Teixeira the ball right on the edge of his own defensive third. The Brazilian made the most of the opportunity, sprinting past the last remaining Japanese defender and smashing the opener past Masaaki Higashiguchi after only two minutes. Less than four minutes later, Ramires doubled the lead, connecting to a lucky ball in from his countryman, Teixeira, with a diving header. Jiangsu took what was given to them, laid back and waited for opportunities on the break, Gamba were allowed to keep almost all of possession (74% after 22 minutes) without even getting close to pulling one back. Logically enough, three minutes before the break, Hong Jeong-Ho met a nicely taken free-kick from Teixiera with an even nicer header to make it three for the Chinese side and the hosts were cruising through to the play-offs at halftime, with only 28% possession, while the guests had still to convert their massive time on the ball into a single shot at goal.
The second half looked identical to the first one, although Gamba managed to get a dangerous shot away from outside the box following a corner after just over a quarter of an hour played. Still, Jiangsu looked far more dangerous whenever they had the chance to get forward without risking anything at the back. The few times that the hosts looked like they could be expose, Gamba lacked the quality to make something of it. All in all, it was one of the most comfortable matches Jiangsu will play this season.
While Jiangsu was taking care of business, Adelaide United caused major upset in the other group H match, securing an impressive 3-1 win away to Jeju United in Korea. Adelaide had Kim Jae-Sung’s early opener equalised by Magno Cruz a minute after going ahead but two second half goals, from Dylan McGowan and Riley McGree, saw the Australians jump from forth to second place, putting Jiangsu out of reach at the top, and making the race for the other play-off spot wide open, with two games still to go.
The group, as it stands after four rounds:
Jiangsu Suning 12p +6
Adelaide Utd 4p -2
Jeju Utd 4p 0
Gamba Osaka 3p -4