Not much at stake, neither for Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng nor visiting Henan Jianye, with both being more or less stuck in no-man’s land with the season starting to near its end. Such affairs often brings open play and positive attitudes and so this this one. Each side saw a different kind of run come to an end in the previous round, with Guizhou having their five match winning-streak ended away to Tianjin Quanjian and Henan finally getting a win, after seven straight failed attempts, when they visited Shanghai Shenhua.
A nicely taken freekick from midfield reached Henan forward Ricardo Vaz Tê who headed the ball well beyond the Su Boyang’s reach but the keeper was saved by the crossbar and in the both of the following two attacks Nikica Jelavić came near to breaking the deadlock for Guizhou.
In-form Guizhou dominated possession and Jelavic, in particular, looked threatening with good movement whenever the ball reached the Henan box. After 20 minutes the feeling was not if, but when, the home-side would go in front. Iminjan Ilhanjan, who put on an impressive display tonight, came close after half an hour but his effort was thwarted by a wonderful stop from Wu Yan. The Henan goalkeeper then secured his title as half man of the 1st half with an even more acrobatic save from a wonderful Ilhanjan-volley in the 43rd minute to keep the game goalless at halftime.
The tempo was lower from the start of the second half. Guizhou still maintained most possession but with Christian Bassogog and Vaz Tê up front, Henan was always going to be dangerous on the counter attack. The slower build up finally led up to a Wang Fan-cross finding Liang Xueming who headed the ball via Henan-captain Gu Cao to open the scoring after an hour of football. Seven minutes later, Rubén Castro opened up a bit of space for himself and nearly put the match beyond any doubt but yet another fine save from Wu kept the visitors in it. It was only for five minutes more however, because then Castro found the space for another shot and this time, not even Wu could reach the ball as the Spaniard tucked it away perfectly in the bottom corner.
Guizhou had been superior all night and seemed to have the 3 points all wrapped up but out of the blue, the ball fell for Vaz Tê and the Portuguese striker made no mistake, breathing life back into the match with just over 10 minutes left of regular time. Nervousness spread within the home-side and Bassogog’s pace caused some confusion at the back but the threat never felt serious and Guizhou held on to get back to their winning ways pretty comfortably.