Hong Kong's nine-man Eastern thrashed 7-0 by China's Guangzhou Evergrande in AFC Champions League
Hong Kong's champions were dealt a brutal lesson by their big-spending counterparts from mainland China
Full-time Guangzhou 7 Eastern 0 Hong Kong champions Eastern received a brutal lesson about the demands of Champions League football as they were thrashed 7-0 by Guangzhou Evergrande.
The best-laid plans of coach Chan Yuen-ting went out the window in the opening minutes as Wong Tsz-ho conceded a penalty and was sent off, and they were reduced to nine men before the first half was over. In the circumstances, getting to the break just 3-0 down (Ricardo Goulart pen, Wang Shangyuan, Liao Lisheng) was something of an achievement, but they conceded another four after the break (Liao, Alan, Wang and Paulinho) as Guangzhou's class – and some 40 million-worth of Brazilian flair – told against the Hong Kong champions' tiring legs.
84' Guangzhou 7 Eastern 0 And with fans filing out early, Wang Shuangyuan gets his second, lashing in with his left high into the net from close range after Eastern fail to clear their lines.
82' Guangzhou 6 Eastern 0 A nice touch as Eastern's Bleda goes down with cramp - unsurprising given they have played the game at a one-, then two-man disadvantage - and Zheng Long, after pausing for thought, puts the ball out to help him out.
In case you thought Guangzhou were taking it easy though, Paulinho ensures all three of their big-money Brazilians are on the score sheet as he fires a low shot across Yapp from the edge of the box from the resulting throw-in.
75' - Guangzhou have basically been playing 2-4-4 this half for what as turned out to be little more than a welcome training exercise ahead of their Chinese Super Cup game against Jiangsu Suning at the weekend. Eastern even manage to have an attack, but fire over the bar. Meanwhile, Alan, who seems to have an aversion to scoring simple goals, heads over another close-range chance. Fifteen minutes of misery left for Eastern.
65' - Guangzhou 5 Eastern 0 Alan could have had about six tonight, and he finally gets on the scoresheet with the most difficult chance of the lot. Cutting inside from the left, he blasts a right-footed strike from 25 yards out that gives Yapp no chance.
61 - Eastern clinging on to a respectable-in-the-circumstances 4-0, with Guangzhou content to stroke the ball around at walking pace. Alan gives them a reminder of the ever-present danger though when he rattles one off the crossbar
47' - Straight from the restart, Paulinho knocks in what appears to be No.5, but he's flagged offside. Another surely won't be long coming though Guangzhou had 21 shots in the first half, 12 on target...
— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) February 22, 2017
46' - Guangzhou 4 Eastern 0 Many of Guangzhou's fans haven't even taken their seats from their half-time fag break when their team go four up from their first attack. Gao Lin chips up a cross from the left side of the box and Liao Lisheng nods in from six yards. This is brutal for Hong Kong football fans...
40' - A deafening Mexican (Chinese?) wave is going round the stadium now as Guangzhou's fans anticipate a hiding. Only question now is can Eastern's 9 men keep the score somewhat respectable. Remarkably they forge a half-decent chance on a rare foray upfield, but striker Bleda can't get a decent shot away.Guangzhou are straight up the other end though, and Zeng Cheng is unlucky not to make it 4 after a despairing save from Yapp and a defender on the line.
33' SENDING OFF! Eastern down to NINE! This is turning into Eastern's worst nightmare as Wong Chi-chung is shown a second yellow card by the referee for a foul on Alan on the edge of the box. From my seat up in the gods at Tianhe Stadium, it looked a dive. This could be a cricket score now...
32' - 3-0 Guangzhou! A lovely through ball sets Goulart clear on the right side of the box and he squares it for Liao Lisheng to tap in. The Brazilian has been a class apart
23' - Guangzhou miss penalty! Goulart strides through midfield and sends Alan clear and the ball hits off Wong Chi-chung's hand. Seemed harsh but the referee gives another penalty. This time Alan takes it, with a stuttered run-up that looks rather silly when Yapp dives to his right to palm it away.
21' - 2-0 Guangzhou! No sooner do I type the paragraph below than Evergrande finally get their second. Paulinho showed his class with a deft turn to win a free-kick on the edge of Eastern's box. That was deflected wide, but from the corner, Wang Shangyuan bundles in from a yard out after Yapp fails to make a convincing save from the first attempt.
20' - After that disastrous start it's been predictably one-way traffic from Guangzhou, and they almost doubled their lead in the 11th minute after Goulart flashed a dangerous ball across the six-yard box. Yapp Hung-fai has looked suspect in goal for Eastern, spilling almost everything, and that uneasiness is not helping. Nevertheless, Chan Yuen-ting's side have at least stemmed the bleeding with a quarter of the game gone.
3' - 1-0 Guangzhou Disaster for Eastern as Guangzhou score from their first attack after three minutes. A corner flighted in from the right caused panic in defence, but Wong Tsz-ho appeared to have headed it clear off the line. The Australian ref judged that he used his hand though and showed him a straight red card. Ricardo Goulart, the top scorer in the Chinese Super League last season with 19, stepped up to take the penalty and made no mistake, firing low to Yapp Hung-fai's left after a stuttering run up. With Eastern reduced to 10 men, it looks like being a very, very long night
7.55pm - five minutes to kick off and the stadium is nearly full, apart from a notable gap where the few away fans to have made it are surrounded by a ring of police. Guangzhou support in good voice for their first game of the season.
Am guessing that ring of police is to enclose the few Eastern fans who made it. pic.twitter.com/z4BwRzcUfv
— James Porteous (@JamesPorteous) February 22, 2017
Welcome to our coverage of Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao v Eastern in the Asian Champions League.
It's the first time a Hong Kong side have competed in the group stage of the competition and Chan Yuen-ting's local champions are massive underdogs against the big-spending team from the other side of the Pearl River Delta, China champions for the last six seasons in a row.
As well as the 'local derby' element, the match is also notable as it's the first time a woman will manage a team in the competition, 28-year-old Chan creating history as she became the first female coach ever to lead a men's professional team to a league championship when Eastern won the Hong Kong Premier League.
— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) February 22, 2017
Unfortunately, it seems there will be few, if any, 'genuine' Eastern fans in attendance for the match just a two-hour train ride from Hong Kong, after a mysterious 'ticketing mix-up' that many are attributing to an order passed down from the central government in Beijing.
Read our preview of the game here, and we'll be back with kick-off approaching (8pm)