Despite this being the first game to kickoff the 2012 season, it didn’t have the first goal of the season (that honor goes to Ricardo of Dalian Shide). Perhaps it was due to the chill in the air or the snow that was falling in Shenyang, it took a full half for the teams to warm up, but when they did, the second half provided plenty of excitement (and goals).
After Liaoning keeper Zhang Lu mishandled the ball, giving Henan a good chance early on in the match, that bit of fear was enough to pump up Liaoning, going immediately on the attack and putting together a number of good early chances, but for Henan having a number of men behind the ball. It was almost always Yu Hanchao that had a hand in creating the chance or was on the end of it, however the horrible conditions, due to a massive snowstorm a few days prior made keeping the ball difficult.
While the first half would remain scoreless, the tie was broken ten minutes into the second half when Liaoning was awarded a penalty after a blatant handball by new Henan defender Son Seung-Joon. Zhao Junzhe stepped up and cooly handled the penalty, scoring the club’s first goal of the new season. Minutes later it was Yu Hanchao rushing down the left side and finding a bit of space, he lobbed a ball across the box and found a wide open Vlatko Grozdanoski on the back post. In the 70th minute it was time for Yu to get his own goal, this time a ball was played into the box by Pablo Brandan, took a kind bounce off a teammate’s hip and found Yu, who walked it in and slipped it past the keeper. Five minutes later, Yu almost made it 4-0 with a good header attempt, though Henan keeper Zeng Cheng was up to the task.
Christopher Katongo was the only player on Henan who really threatened the keeper, he had a solid chance in the first half and another after an impressive individual effort in the second half, but finally was able to help his side get on the board in the 87th minute after his cross into the box wasn’t cleared, allowing Marco Flores to take a shot, the shot hit a defender and fell to Netto, who put it past the keeper to give the visitor’s a consolation goal.
Liaoning made it look easy, picking off right where they left off last season, and Yu looked good, very good, one of the best performances of the weekend, only topped by Conca’s two goals for Evergrande.