Playing their first match after the return of head coach Chang Woe-Ryong’s, Qingdao Jonoon was unable to hold off a persistent Jiangsu Sainty as the home side emerged with a 1-0 victory last Sunday evening at Nanjing Olympic Stadium.
The combination of a stingy Qingdao defense and Jiangsu not making the most of their chances led to a tense game which appeared to be headed for a draw until an Aleksandar Jevtić header in the 77th minute which proved to be the game winning goal. The win keeps Jiangsu in fourth place, while the loss comes as another disappointment for bottom of the table Qingdao who has yet to win an away match this season.
Coming off the first home loss in over a year Jiangsu Sainty was looking to start a new winning streak against lowly Qingdao. Qingdao on the other hand was hoping that the return of Korean manager Chang Woe-Ryong would help the club earn its first win since April 15th. Chang coached Qingdao to a sixth place finish during the 2011 Chinese Super League season, the highest ever for the Shandong club. During the winter break Chang left Qingdao for Chinese Super League newcomer Dalian Aerbin, but was sacked after a slow start. Just last week Chang returned to Qingdao to replace caretaker Yang Weijian.
Unlike their last few matches, Jiangsu did not have a slow start, and put Qingdao on the defensive in the early goings. A promising corner kick just a few minutes in the game was punched out with authority by Qingdao keeper Liu Zhenli. Liu, who was a member of the 2008 Olympic team, showed good poise by making several solid decisions that kept Jiangsu off the score board.
In the 16th minute it appeared that Qingdao defender Li Peng used his upper arm to block a cross into the penalty box, but the ref waved on play. Unfortunately this clip did not make the highlight reel as I would really love to get another look at it because from where I was standing it looked awfully close to a penalty.
Throughout the majority of the first half Qingdao did virtually nothing on the offensive end. They lobbed long balls up to the forwards, but these passes rarely found their targets. In the closing minutes of the half Qingdao finally showed some signs of life. Jiangsu defender Ren Hang had a goal saving tackle inside the penalty box around the 40th minute. Four minutes later a Qingdao player headed a corner kick just over the bar, which was the visitor’s best chance of the half.
Fifteen minutes into the second half Ji Xiang blotched a wonderful chance as he headed a cross from Sun Ke over the bar. Ji was unmarked at the far end of the goal, yet somehow failed to get the ball on target.
Qingdao came inches from scoring in the 65th minute when a header by Xu Jingjie went down towards the near post. Luckily for Jiangsu Liu Jianye was manning the post and cleared the ball off the line. His clearance wasn’t a perfect one as it went straight up and off the crossbar and sailed high into the air but was cleared as it fell into the middle of the box. Goal line technology would have come in handy on this play as the ball was very close to crossing the line.
In the 77th minute Aleksandar Jevtić put Jiangsu up for good with a textbook header off a Du Wenhui cross. Second half sub Du curled in a wonderful pass that found Jevtić sandwiched between two Qingdao defenders. The Romanian managed to head the ball down into the corner of the goal, just out of Liu Zhenli’s reach.
After stalling and playing hurt most of the evening Qingdao was forced to play the aggressor, but it was too little too late as Jiangsu locked down and partook in a little time wasting of their own as the final minutes ticked off the clock.
This win was vital for Jiangsu which had only earned one point from their last three matches. With a two week break coming up Jiangsu needed a win because after the break it’s going to be a tough few matches for the Nanjing club. The first three matches after the break are against the top three teams in the league and two of those games will be played on the road, which hasn’t been kind of Jiangsu this season.
On a personal note, this match was the final home game for me this season, and possibly ever. In roughly a month I’ll be returning to America to marry my fiancee and see where life takes me. I could very well return to China someday, but for now I hope to continue writing match reports from America.