Liaoning’s Zhang Jinyang scored the quickest goal of this year’s CSL season, knocking one in 26 seconds into the match, a goal that would be enough for Liaoning to take all three points. Its tough days for the once mighty Shandong Luneng, who remain in a relegation position after seven matches without a victory.
Right off the start, Liaoning pushed forward, a fine pass from Ding Jie found Vlatko Grozdanoski at the corner of the box, and his low cross found Zhang in a good position. Zhang’s first shot was deflected off a defender, but the ball fell to him again and this time he made sure it ended up in the back of the net.
The prematch rain may have impacted play a little too much in the first half, it was a dismal performance from both sides and beyond the thirty second attack, there wasn’t much excitement in the half. Perhaps, the visitors should have shown the same passion on the pitch that Liu Wei showed when he was substituted in the 34th minute, standing on the sidelines openly arguing with his manager. Shandong saw more of the ball in the latter parts of the first half, but never really challenged the Liaoning keeper.
In the second half, it was much the same story, with Liaoning creating slightly better chances, both coming off of headers. A cross found Yang Xu all alone on the keeper, but his header was just wide while it took Shandong defender Wang Qiang’s goalline clearance to keep Miloš Trifunović’s header out.
Wang’s name would come up again a few minutes later when a hard, two footed tackle on Yang Xu would see him receive a straight red card. Down by one on the scoreboard and on the pitch, Shandong looked doomed to yet another defeat. A final push saw them earn a last gasp corner kick that found Hao Junmin in space, however Hao’s shot was blasted into row z and the match was quickly whistled to its conclusion by the referee.
Shandong’s manager Henk ten Cate is once again under a lot of pressure and there’s a lot of speculation whether Luneng will keep him around. He had harsh words for his players after their midweek loss in Changchun and seeing Liu’s blatant dissent on the sidelines one wonders how much control the Dutchman has of his team’s locker room. It could all be irrelevant, with rumors that Shandong will be automatically relegated at the end of this season as a punishment for corruption.
For Liaoning, the three points were an important step in the right direction, getting them back in contention for an Asian position.