Shanghai East Asia 2-0 Changchun Yatai
Chinese Super League Round 4
Wu Lei 14′, Lü Wenjun 17′
“Sometimes, three points are more important than match statistics”, Shanghai’s manager Gao Hongbo said after East Asia won their first CSL match against Changchun Yatai on match day 4.
Yatai were also seeking their first three points of the season prior to the meeting of the two teams. Facing Shanghai seemed like a good opportunity for the Northerners to accomplish just that and were anticipating the chance to move up the table. However, due to the match taking place on a work-day Sunday, such is the Chinese public holiday schedule, the attendance – well below 10,000 – turned out to be a little lower than expected.
The first significant action took place after 14 minutes, when Wu Lei took advantage of a bizarre mix-up between Yatai’s goalkeeper and a central defender to score from close range. Then, just three minutes later, East Asia launched a counter-attack in which a pass from Cabezas to Lü Wenjun cut through the offside trap of the visitors. Lü calmly won the one-on-one contest with the keeper to slot the ball into the net and make it 2-0. For the remainder of the first half, not much happened except for the wasting of a couple of half chances.
In the second half, Changchun kept pressuring East Asia, with the home side gradually losing possession. In the 56th minute, a Yatai cross hit Shanghai defender Addo on the chest in the penalty box. The referee immediately awarded a penalty kick, but after some discussion with the linesman, reversed his earlier decision.
Home coach Gao Hongbo made his intention to hold on to the lead when he brought on Wu Yunyin for Cabezas in the 76th minute, changing their formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-2-1 . His tactical switch was successful and East Asia were soon tasting their first CSL win in history.
During the match, East Asia managed 12 shots, with 6 on target. Yatai had 22 shots, but only 2 were on target. In terms of possession, the visitors enjoyed the bulk with 65%, and had a pass accuracy of 86%. East Asia’s pass accuracy was about 74%.
Yatai controlled the second half, and created several chances, but East Asia managed to achieve a clean sheet in the end, if perhaps not playing the flowing football they are known for. However, the points were more important, as Gao himself made clear.
East Asia’s Chinese players have kept up their scoring (Wu Lei so far has scored the most goals of all Chinese players in the league), and this time, their defense finally held up against a CSL attack. Gao Hongbo has made obvious changes to the team and with a little more experience in the CSL under their belt, East Asia may indeed be a surprise in the 2013 season.