Shanghai East Asia kicked off their 2014 CSL campaign with a 1-1 draw shaded with controversy away to Liaoning Whowin at the Panjin Stadium.
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 1
Liaoning Whowin 1
Kevin Oris 19′
Shanghai East Asia 1
Wu Lei 45′
The home side had gone ahead in the 19th minute via Belgian striker Kevin Oris, who actually appeared to handle the ball into the net after some suspect marking from an in-swinging corner kick. East Asia’s appeals fell on deaf ears, however, as the referee failed to spot the infringement. Nonetheless, Wu Lei picked up from where he left off last season, striking deftly just before half time to level the scores.
East Asia started the game with their new look front line in full force, as newcomer Tobias Hysen started up front alongside Daniel McBreen, allowing star man Wu Lei to tuck in just behind. The two foreigners looked useful together and showed glimpses of a what could be an efficient partnership for the side, combining to create several chances, before McBreen’s replacement by Zhu Zhengrong in the 81st minute.
The first goal came after a tentative start from both sides, with each team taking their time to carve out any meaningful chances. However, it was Liaoning that made the breakthrough after 19th minutes, as Oris found himself unmarked on the 6-yard line. The forward lunged towards goal, clearly using his arm to shovel the ball into the back of the net. Despite the protestations of both East Asia players and fans, the referee was obstinate in his decision to allow the goal to stand.
East Asia responded well, with Wang Jiayu, on his return to the side, producing a notable performance alongside Cai Huikang in midfield. The visitors almost drew level on 25 minutes as Daniel McBreen found his way to the back post to meet a looping cross from the right side of the box. However the Australian international could not find the composure to finish, lofting the ball over the bar with his left boot from close range. The attacker was involved again 8 minutes later, combining neatly with Wu Lei, the referee waving away appeals for a penalty after a deflected ball seemingly struck the arm of a covering Liaoning defender. After Hysen recovered the ball inside the area, forcing a quick save from goalkeeper Lu Zhang, McBreen again struck the ball over the bar from the resulting loose ball.
From there East Asia started to control the game, stringing passes together and dictating the tempo in the middle of the park. Finally, in first-half stoppage time, Lei capped off a wonderful passing move by East Asia, as they worked their way up the field from deep inside their own half. Collecting the ball on the halfway line, Cai Huikang skipped past the oncoming challenges of 2 Whowin midfielders, dashing into the open space before him and playing a simple ball out to Wu on his right. From there, the young ace managed to slide in Hysen right on the edge of the penalty area, before gratefully accepting the return pass and coolly slotting low to the goalkeeper’s right hand side.
East Asia resumed play in the ascendency, creating several chances early on, following some noticeably poor defending from the home side. The closest of these came after 50 minutes through Wu Lei, pouncing on Yi Teng’s mistimed attempt to clear, 25 yards away from goal. The striker drove into the penalty area before firing past the Liaoning number one with a firm right foot, only to be denied by woodwork. The forward’s reaction said it all as the CSL’s reigning domestic golden boot winner came agonisingly close to putting the visiting side ahead.
The second half continued in similar vein as East Asia directed the tempo in midfield. Up front, McBreen again spurned openings in front of goal, and Hysen was unable to bundle the ball over the line from one of the resulting rebounds.
Liaoning responded a number of times, going closest when Artyom Filiposyan stretched to meet Wang Liang’s free kick from just inside their opponent’s half. The defender was unmarked at Yan Junling’s left-hand post, but was unable to direct the ball goalwards. East Asia again went close in the second minute of injury time, substitute Zhu Zhengrong scrambling to fire the ball wide to the goalkeeper’s left, but ultimately had to settle for a point.
The team will be happy with a solid start, looking comfortable throughout. However, they will also be mindful of missed opportunities that could prove costly if ambitions of a challenge on the CSL’s bigger names are to be fulfilled. All focus must now be on East Asia’s next game, at home to Shanghai Shenxin, on Sunday 16th March at 16:00.
Liaoning Whowin: 1 Zhang Lu; 22 Wang Liang, 16 Artyom Filiposyan (79’ – 5 Yang Shanping), 8 Zhang Ye, 14 B Celeski (79’ – Zhao Junzhe), 20 Kim Tae-Yan, 18 Yi Teng, 13 Zhang Jingyang (73’ – 40 Ding Jie), 4 Sun Shilin, 10 Kevin Oris, 21 Aleksandar Jevtic.
Shanghai East Asia: 1 Yan Junling; 25 Ransford Addo, 21 Ibán Javier Cuadrado, 4 Wang Shenchao, 23 Fu Huan, 7 Wu Lei, 20 Wang Jiayu, 6 Cai Huikang, 9 Tobias Hysen, 36 Daniel McBreen (81’ – 10 Zhu Zhengrong), 11 Lu Wenjun.