SUZHOU, China – Beijing Guoan became the second team to move into the semifinal of the Chinese Super League here on Thursday, as the capital-based team eliminated Shandong Luneng 4-3 on aggregate, but it came with significant controversy as Luneng saw their second goal disallowed.
The 16 sides were split into two groups in the first phase, playing in a round-robin format in Dalian and Suzhou. The top four teams from each group in the first phase gathered in Suzhou to vie for the title between Oct 16 and Nov 12.
Luneng fumbled a two-goal cushion, and only settled for a 2-2 stalemate in the first leg. In Thursday’s match, Luneng had a more aggressive start and took the lead in the 15th minute as Moises Lima Magalhaes broke into the box to drill home after a give-and-go with Roger Guedes.
Guoan responded quickly in the 19th minute when Cedric Bakambu burst down the left and squared for unmarked Zhang Yuning to tap in.
Bakambu missed a golden opportunity in the 59th minute as the hitman surprisingly hit the woodwork from close range.
Luneng should have restored the lead in the 69th minute when Guedes pulled back for Duan Liuyu to find the net, but it was wiped out as the referee thought Guedes had fouled in the buildup after viewing the VAR.
The judge apparently influenced Luneng as it conceded the second minutes later when Zhang prodded into the net on Renato Augusto’s assist, but the Brazilian was suspected of a handball before the goal.
It sparked conflict when Marouane Fellaini kicked Guoan’s goalkeeper Hou Sen after a corner, Yu Yang and Liu Junshuai saw yellow during the conflict.
During a nine-minute stoppage time, Luneng poured forward but was still toothless while Zhang missed a good chance to complete a hat-trick as he saw his attempt inches past the post with Goalkeeper Wang Dalei well beaten.
Guoan will take on Guangzhou Evergrande in the semifinal, after they knocked out Hebei China Fortune 8-1 after two legs.