Jiangsu Sainty used a flurry of first half goals to defeat Liaoning Whowin 4-2, handing the home side their only second home-loss of the season. This win probably caught most people, even the Jiangsu supporters, off guard. Prior to the match Liaoning was sitting in 3rd place in the league while Jiangsu was towards the back of the standings in 11th. On top of this Jiangsu has a dismal road record this season, going 1-7-0 (W-L-D) prior to this match. If anything this unexpected win, coupled with Jiangsu’s recent success at home, was a figurative shot across the bow for the entire Chinese Super League, informing them that Jiangsu is the real deal.
The most encouraging part of the four goals scored by Jiangsu is that three of them came from two players picked up during the summer transfer window. The first of these goals match came from an unlikely source in Komoliddin Tadjiev. In the seventh minute the Uzbek defender took a beautiful cross from captain Lu Bofei and was able to just barely flick the ball into the corner of the goal. It almost looked like the ball might have gone in without Tadjiev’s assistance, but regardless the ball found its way to the back of the net giving Jiangsu the early 1-0 lead.
Roughly ten minutes later the Jiangsu would double their lead off a Sun Ke strike. The visitors were a little lucky as Cristian Dănălache blasted a shot directly at the Liaoning keeper, Zhang Lu, only for the ball to bounce high in the air and land directly at the feet of a wide open Sun Ke. With Zhang Lu out of position Sun Ke wasted no time in ripping a shot into the open goal.
After scoring in his first two matches Serbian striker Aleksandar Jevtić didn’t disappoint as he scored the third goal for Jiangsu in the 22nd minute. Jevtić sent a pass to Dănălache up the right flank where Dănălache used his lanky frame to hold off the Liaoning defender. This enabled Jevtić to sprint into the top of the box where Dănălache laid off the ball for Jevtić who showed a true finishers touch with a graceful shot into the upper corner of the goal.
Jevtić would increase Jiangsu’s lead even further in the 41st minute after a rather lucky bounce off a Liaoning player. A give and go between Jevtić and Dănălache sent Jevtić racing towards the goal with Liaoning defender Wang Bo right on his shoulder. As Jevtić attempted to head the ball forward it instead went off Wang’s head, but as luck would have it the ball bounced directly in path of the Jiangsu striker who used his chest to control the ball and then launched a rocket that Zhang Lu was unable to stop.
Being up 4-0 in the 45th minute Jiangsu looked to go into halftime with a hefty lead, but a foul in the box in the final minute of the half gave Liaoning a penalty kick. Captain Zhao Junzhe was selected to take the PK and he buried it home, giving Liaoning a single bright spot in a otherwise dreadful first half.
It wasn’t until the 76th minute that Liaoning would cut into Jiangsu’s lead when Korean defender Kim Yoo-Jin scored off a corner kick. The ball appeared to come off the arm of a Liaoning player but the replay showed it might have been off his chest/shoulder. Either way the goal gave some life to the home side. The best chance in the final 15-mintutes was a 2-on-1 breakaway by Jiangsu with Dănălache and substitute Paolo de la Haza barreling down on the goal. Dănălache sent the ball over to the Peruvian midfielder, but he wasn’t able to get the ball by a charging Zhang Lu who got a hand on the ball which deflected it out of bounds, giving Jiangsu a corner. The match ended with Jiangsu bunkering down, not allowing Liaoning any opportunities to make a miracle comeback.
Two weeks ago the Editor asked me during the weekly pub talk if I thought Jiangsu had a chance to qualify for the Asian Champions League. I said even the most optimistic Jiangsu fans aren’t dreaming of the ACL, but after the way the matches this week went I might be forced to eat my words. Jiangsu could potentially jump from 11th to 5th in the standings if they defeat Shenzhen next week in Nanjing. The time of low expectations could be over for us Jiangsu fans.