Shanghai East Asia suffered yet another untimely loss, this time away to second place Hunan Xiangtao. The league leaders saw their lead slashed to four points after failing to hold their nerve against a talented but somewhat mercurial home team.
The visitors made the most of the damp conditions in Changsha to get under the skin of their hosts right from the kick-off and their persistence paid off handsomely when with only six minutes played, Wu Lei found himself in the right place at the right time to bundle the ball home from close range past Wang Haoyi.
It was the perfect start to the game for East Asia, who managed to fashion more chances later on in the game when Lv Wenjun’s freekick drifted across the wrong side of the post and into the side netting, much to the relief of a stranded Wang.
East Asia took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break and the Shanghainese team would have been pleased with their efforts in the first forty-five minutes. Hunan, unbeaten at home this season and boasting an impressive record in Changsha since getting promoted to China League One three years ago, looked somewhat baffled by the grit and zest of their guests and could have possibly been down by more than one goal if East Asia had more luck on their side.
However, if the first half was all about the away side, Hunan made sure they dominated the second, and with sixty-four minutes played, Dong Fangzhou, back in the side following a suspension for making rude gestures at rival fans in a previous game, was on hand to power a header into the left-hand corner of the net after a good spell of possession from the home side.
The former Manchester United player continued to look in fine form after his goal and a long-range attempt ten minutes later almost gave Hunan the lead.
Things looked ominous for the visitors and sure enough with only two minutes left of normal time, Erick Norales exploited a brief moment of hesitancy in the East Asia defense to burst into the penalty area and fire the ball past Yan Junling.
It was a cruel but inevitable blow. The visitors had led until midway through the second half now had to return to Shanghai with nothing after two well-taken strikes had helped Hunan snatch all the points in front of their home fans. East Asia, having lost their third game in their last five need to turn things around and fast.
In other CL1 games, Chongqing Lifan beat the visiting Wuhan Zull 3-0. Harbin Yiteng lost at home for the first time this season following a 1-0 defeat to Guangdong Sunray Cave whilst Hohhot Dongjin climbed out of the relegation zone after drawing 1-1 with Shenzhen Ruby.