It was another bitterly cold day at TieXi Stadium, but the fans still made it out and what they were treated to was an excellent day of football, though a result that didn’t send them home happily. In recent years, Liaoning has dominated this Dongbei derby especially at home, but Changchun wasn’t leaving Shenyang without a point.
The match was a wide open affair, despite the lack of any live grass. The pitch was brown, though it was in decent shape considering it was covered by snow only days before. Until China starts implementing pitch protectors, you’ll have to get used to brown grass in the early months of the year in the northeast.
Enough about the grass, Liaoning came hot out of the gates, pushing forward and looking like they’d score early on. Offseason arrival Miloš Trifunovićlooked very impressive early on and was pairing well with Yu Hanchao to push forward. After multiple chances, Liaoning broke through in the 31st minute when Trifunović found space in the box and somehow slotted one past the keeper on the near post. A great first goal for him, but you have to put some of the responsibility on the keeper for it.
The end-to-end play didn’t stop and both teams found opportunities, but neither was able to score again in the first half. The second half opened with a quick equalizer from Changchun. Zhang Lei was able to make the first save, but gave up a rebound that Wang Dong buried in the upper corner, making it 1-1 after only a minute.
It would be Changchun again 10 minutes later when a failed clearance fell to Pei Shuai, who ripped a shot from 30 meters out. Liaoning would get the equalizer just two minutes later when in the 60th minute, Vlatko Grozdanoski back heeled a cross on to Yang Xu, who was wide open and easily finished to get things back to even.
Liaoning would go ahead in the 65th minute, a searching pass took a lucky hop over the Changchun defender and found Trifunović, who chipped the keeper for his second of the match.
Changchun took off a defender and brought on Brazilian Weldon, they were going all out and would quickly find an equalizer, coming in the 74th minute. Liu Weidong got the ball at the top of the box, dribbled past three defenders and the keeper before tapping it in and celebrating with the travelling fans behind the net. It was an unbelievable individual effort combined with laughable defending, worth watching the highlights for.
Despite plenty of chances, Liaoning was unable to find the late winner and the match ended in a well fought draw. Going up to Shenyang has never been easy, but teams are in for a greater threat this year, the combination of Trifunović and Grozdanoski alongside Yang Xu and Yu Hanchao are sure to win a lot of matches. They’re no longer the surprise side of last year, they are serious contenders.