Chinese Super League

Dragan Stojkovic rules out a ‘tragedy’ as Guangzhou R&F lose to strugglers Guizhou Zhicheng in Chinese Super League

Eran Zahavi scores seventh goal in as many games, but two second half strikes from Nikica Jelavic earn visitors first win of the season at Yuexiushan Stadium on Friday

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 April, 2017, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 April, 2017, 10:27pm

Coach Dragan Stojkovic ruled out a “tragedy” after Chinese Super League pacesetters Guangzhou R&F saw their unbeaten start to the season ended after suffering a surprise 3-1 defeat by struggling Guizhou Zhicheng on Friday.

Eran Zahavi’s seventh goal in as many games after just 34 seconds at Yuexiushan Stadium had handed the home side the ideal start only for Kenyan Michael Olunga to pull Guizhou level midway through the first half.

And with Croatian Nikica Jelavic netting twice in the second half, Guizhou claimed a first win of the season to deny R&F a third consecutive victory.

“We need to analyse the game and make a summing up of it. Overall, the players did very well in the last six games and I can accept this defeat,” said Stojkovic.

Watch: Guangzhou R&F 1-3 Guizhou Zhicheng highlights

“It’s very normal to lose, it’s not a tragedy. Guizhou played very well in the second half and they deserved the win.

“We were very clear of the difficulty of this game, especially when you face a relegation struggler and different factors will make the game very dangerous. We didn’t take enough control of the game in the second half. This is our first defeat and we have to accept it.”

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Stojkovic was forced to defend his decision to withdraw striker Apostolis Giannou at the start of the second half, with the score at 1-1, and replace the Australian with Brazilian Renatinho.

“No regret. I sent on a centre forward to make sure the team would be more energetic,” added Stojkovic.

“We were not good enough when handling the long passes and lost too many second balls. We had a dream start and managed to play the game in our own tempo. If we had scored a second goal, the game could have been easier for us.

“I always know it’s very difficult to remain unbeaten. We have to accept the defeat and learn from it. We didn’t do well in defence and we lacked Urso and Renatinho was tired since he just came back from Brazil.”

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R&F will still be top of the table after the weekend’s round of fixtures, but could be joined by Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou Evergrande.

Evergrande travel to Henan Jianye on Saturday, while SIPG face Chongqing Lifan on Sunday.