By sportswriter Michael Butterworth
BEIJING, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Beijing Guoan returned to the top of the Chinese Super League with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Wuhan Zall in driving rain at Workers Stadium on Saturday evening.
Looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2-0 defeat against Shandong Luneng last week, Guoan almost gave their fans the perfect start, but midfielder Renato Augusto's long-range effort in the second minute curled narrowly wide.
Wuhan appeared cowed by their opponents in the opening stages, and Guoan looked to press home their home advantage, with right-back Wang Gang getting the crowd going with several trademark barnstorming runs down the flank.
The home side's high press forced Wuhan into conceding several corners in the opening stages, and it was from one of these that Guoan took the lead, when Augusto collected a half-cleared ball and drilled a low cross for Jonathan Viera to tap home in the 14th minute.
Zhang Xizhe should have doubled Guoan's lead ten minutes later, but the midfielder shot straight at Wuhan goalkeeper Dong Hengyi when it appeared easier to score.
After being very much on the back foot for the first 30 minutes of the contest, Wuhan sprang into life in the latter stages of the half, when midfielder Li Hang fired over, and then striker Rafael Silva drew a good save from Guoan keeper Zou Dehai, after some uncharacteristically slack defending had seen the Brazilian through on goal.
Wuhan carried their newfound confidence into the second half, after Silva saw a shot tipped wide by Zou, and then winger Jean Kouassi fired over after latching onto a good ball from substitute Leo Baptistao.
But despite the away side's best efforts to restore parity, Guoan doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Renato Augusto tucked away a penalty, awarded after Viera had been tripped inside the box.
Viera was in the thick of the action again a few minutes later, when his long-range free-kick was palmed away at full stretch by Dong. The Spaniard would not be denied in the 73rd minute, however, when good work from substitute Zhang Yuning allowed Viera time and space to fire past Dong and give the home side a three-goal advantage.
Guoan might have had a fourth goal moments later when Augusto found himself free down the right-hand channel, but his low cross missed his waiting teammates and was instead gathered gratefully by Dong.
With the game all but over as a contest by this point, the jubilant Guoan fans indulged in a few Mexican waves as their team ran out clear and deserved winners.
"It was a super game," enthused Guoan coach Roger Schmidt afterwards. "Tactically we played very well. It was important for us to bounce back after the defeat last week. We have been top of the table for a long time so far this season and we've been especially strong here at Workers Stadium."
Wuhan coach Li Tie paid tribute to his side's supporters. "Thank you to our fans for travelling such a long way for the game. I'm sorry that we couldn't win. Our players tried hard and we had some good chances to score, but Beijing Guoan are a very strong team."
Guoan's next CSL match is on July 10 at home to Chongqing Lifan, while Wuhan Zall return to China's capital on July 13 to take on Beijing Renhe.