Words: ACFC Media
Tuesday 5 February 2019
Picture: Jayne Russell
HONG KONG, China - Two goals by Roger Guedes including a late winner has given Shandong Luneng Taishan FC a last gasp come-from-behind 2-1 victory over a beaten but not disgraced Auckland City FC in Hong Kong tonight.
Auckland City FC shrugged off the 12 hour flight - and their journey from Christchurch where they defeated Canterbury United 1-0 last Saturday - to turn in a competitive performance inspired by the sparkling Micah Lea'alafa.
The defeat ended Auckland City FC's unbeaten sequence of 32 games over the course of a year, one month and 30 days, dating back to their 1-0 loss to Al Jazira at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE on December 7, 2017.
They still remain unbeaten in New Zealand and Oceania competition dating back to their defeat to Team Wellington on domestic business in October of 2017, but that will be of scant consolation to them.
The former Oceania champions caused Shandong Luneng more than their fair share of problems in wide areas with Lea'alafa testing goalkeeper Wang Dalei as early as the first minute when his speculative effort tested the keeper.
The Chinese Super League champions took a while to get in their stride but once they did the combination of former English Premier League striker Graziano Pelle and Guedes proved a handful.
Guedes in particular outshone Pelle but Auckland City FC weren't without their contributors either with Fabrizio Tavano, Angel Berlanga, Mario Bilen, Brian Kaltack and Cam Howieson also turning in good performances.
Lea'alafa was at the heart of Auckland City FC's attacking threats and when he latched onto a deflected through ball from substitute Dylan Manickum to slip between the Shandong defence to score the game's opening goal, most fans had barely got back to their seats for the second half.
The Solomon Islands international was then taken off after he cramped up and the momentum seemed to swing the way of the Li Xiaopeng-coached side as the Navy Blues started to flag.
Going a goal behind seemed to give Shandong a shake and they were soon level when Guedes lifted a beautifully crafted free-kick over the Navy Blues wall past Enaut Zubikarai who stood rooted to his line.
In truth there was little he could do to prevent a quality finish from the 22-year-old former Palmeiras front man who came into his own in the final ten minutes.
With six minutes to go Guedes hit Auckland City FC's upright as the New Zealand champions clung on for penalties only to then snatch a cruel winner with two minutes left on the clock.
The goal was a hammer blow after Auckland City FC gave so much to the game as they so often have against clubs from professional leagues.
But knowing that won't soften the blow of defeat unless they can somehow pick themselves up in two days time to face either one of the Hong Kong League XI or the vastly more glamorous challenge of Fernando Torres and Sagan Tosu of the J.League.
FULL TIME - Auckland City FC 1-2 Shandong Luneng— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) February 5, 2019
Shandong Luneng Taishan FC record a come-from-behind 2-1 win over #ISPSHandaPrem champions Auckland City FC in Hong Kong.
Match report and post-match reaction to follow
Tonghai Financial Chinese New Year Cup
Tuesday 5 February 2019
Auckland City FC 1 (Micah LEA'ALAFA 46')
Shandong Luneng Taishan FC 2 (Roger GUEDES 57', 88')
REFEREE: Ng Chiu KOK (HKG)
AR 1: Lo Yuk MING (HKG)
AR 2: Wong Ping CHUNG (HKG)
FOURTH: Liu Kwok MAN (HKG)
AC: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA (c), 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Javier LOPEZ (12. Dylan MANICKUM 46'), 10. Micah LEA'ALAFA (16. Yousif ALI 66'), 11. Fabrizio TAVANO (8. Albert RIERA 85'), 14. Jordan VALE (22. Oscar GUARDIOLA 90'), 15. Dan MORGAN, 19. David BROWNE ( 21. Maro BONSU-MARO 78').
SUBS NOT USED: 18. Ruben PARKER (GK), 24. Cameron BROWN (GK), 3. Takuya IWATA, 13. Patrick LUNDEMO, 20. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
COACH: Ramon TRIBULIETX
SL: 14. Wang DEI (GK), 4. GIL, 6. Wang TONG, 7. Cui PENG (15. Li WEI 46'), 11. Liu YANG (, 16. Zhou HAIBIN 46'), 13. Zhang CHI, 17. Wu XINGHAN (24. Qi TIANYU 46' (5. Zheng ZHENG 78')), 19. PELLE, 32. GUEDES, 35. Dai LIN, 53. Duan LIUYU (57. Liu CHAOYANG 46' (8. Gomes DELGADO 67')).
SUBS NOT USED: 1. Liu ZHENLI (GK), 43. Li GUANXI (GK), 3. Luo ANDONG, 9. Bai TIANCI, 21. Chen KERUI, 27. Cao SHENG, 29. Cheng YUAN, 34. Li HAILONG, 45. Zhao JIANFEI.
COACH: Li XIAOPENG