Football has the power to make many people happy and last Tuesday, after beating Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds, was one of those days. It was our third AFC Champions League match and both teams badly wanted a win. We were defending the top spot in the group, whilst the Japanese needed their first points. Fortunately for us, our captain Xu Yulong and Daesung had recovered from their injuries and were back in the line-up.
We had a good start to the match; pressing deep in the opposition’s side, controlling the play in midfield and, despite the condition of the pitch, playing some attractive football. I believe it was our best match so far this season. Even after an injured Zhao Jy had to be replaced by Li Lei the team did not relent and instead kept fighting for a win, as we felt the opposition starting to waver. Eventually, Batalla picked up a loose ball in the box and scored the goal we deserved, to the delight of a packed Worker’s Stadium which had been cheering us on from the first minute. After a while, Yu Dabao, who had come on for Song to open up the field, scored our second goal with a great left-footer.
We managed to win a tough game and make it three consecutive victories that leave us top of the group with 9 points. After the draw in the group’s other match, played in Australia, we have a solid 5-point lead with three matches left in this group stage. But right now we must return our full attention to the Super League and focus on maintaining this excellent streak with a win at Hangzhou.
Gregorio Manzano Ballesteros
Head Coach of Beijing Guoan Football Club