CHINA LEAGUE ONE ROUND 1
Guangdong Sunray Cave 2
Lu Yang (OG)24′, Mahama Awal 59′
Andres Marquez 60′, Jia Xiaochen 78′
Jia Xiaochen scored directly from a corner as underdogs Hebei Zhongji recovered from 2-0 down away from home to earn their first point in China League One. The opening game of the season was played on a terrible pitch but didn’t lack for effort and burst into life midway through the second half with both sides scoring in the space of two minutes.
It took both teams a while to get used to the awful playing surface which lacked grass to begin with and cut up as the game wore on; Sunray Cave definitely didn’t move to the Huangpu Sports Centre for its pitch. Hebei had the best early chance and the newboys thought they’d scored first but Marquez’s effort was ruled out for offside.
Sunray Cave consistently looked dangerous from set pieces and their opener came from an inswinging corner. Carlos Garcia, who contrary to reports of his retirement is still playing, headed the ball goalwards and it deflected off Lu Yang and over the line despite Otkur Hesen’s lunge. The hosts remained 1-0 up at the break as both Wang Qiang and Cai Jingyuan missed great chances.
Hebei created few chances in the opening period as most of their attacks ended in wasted free kicks after their players had been fouled. Both sides were guilty of rash tackles though and the referee handed out plenty of yellow cards and eventually sent one of the Hebei coaches to the stands after protesting about an off-side call.
Hebei’s Hao Shuang had been dominant in the air and had the better of Cai on the ground too but couldn’t prevent Sunray Cave doubling their lead after a classic goalmouth scramble. The Cantonese were denied by Ou Ya in goal, the crossbar, a covering defender and Mahama Awal’s back before the Cameroonian finally lashed in from 10 yards out .
This drew an immediate response from Hebei Zhongji as they scored from the restart. The ball was worked wide to Zhu Haiwei and the Argentinian Marquez headed in his side’s first goal in China League One. There were less aimless long balls from the visitors now as, helped by their subs, they sensed they could get something from the game and their reward came from a corner. Direct from a corner in fact as Jia’s inswinger bent all the way into the back of the Sunray Cave net without being touched.
The game became increasingly frantic and with tempers rising both sides had chances to take all three points; Gao Yunfei’s late header for Hebei was well saved though. Sunray Cave had the better chances but Li Jian somehow missed Awal’s cross at the back post and new signing Petar Jelic capped his uninspiring first 20 minutes for the club by looping a late header over the bar.
Hebei can take plenty of encouragement from this game as not many would have expected the CL1 newboys to come away with anything whilst Sunray Cave’s manager Moreno will be concerned at the way his side threw away a 2-0 lead. Not as concerned as the groundsman though as Sunray Cave will play their next three matches at home so he won’t have much time to improve the state of the pitch.