Shanghai East Asia sealed a valuable 3 points in their final game before the summer break, as they saw off a spirited Harbin side at Shanghai Stadium in midweek. The hosts took the lead through Li Haowen in the first half, whilst at the other end, Yan Junling continued his stellar early season form with a crucial 70th-minute stop from Dori’s penalty kick.
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 14
Shanghai East Asia 1
Li Haowen 34′
Harbin Yiteng 0
East Asia made two changes from the side that started at Jiangsu last time out, as Li Haowen came in for Tobias Hysen – who had travelled back to his native Sweden ahead of their clash with Denmark; whilst Wang Jiayu returned to the side in place of Lin Chuangyi. Pre-match talk had focused heavily on forward Zhu Zhengrong’s proposed move to city rivals Shanghai Shenxin – and the East Asia faithful remained vociferous in their support for the local striker, who even made an appearance in the stands in the second half. The 25 year old was given a rapturous reception by the home faithful, and cemented his cult hero status having led a chorus of East Asia chants.
On the pitch, the reds were once again slow to get going, and were made to endure some nervy moments early on, as Harbin’s foreign strike duo Dori and Ricardo Steer, in particular, pushed the hosts back. Whilst the two sets of fans were impressively respectful of each other – post-game song and scarf exchanges demonstrating this perfectly – the same could not be said of the players, with some rather agricultural challenges on display throughout. This was exemplified by a 17th-minute dispute following three full-blooded East Asia tackles in quick succession – Wang Jiayu’s studs-up challenge on Steer being the worst of the bunch. Tensions simmered, and although the three players involved in the confrontations weren’t punished themselves, Daniel McBreen managed to talk himself into a yellow card in the process.
As the game progressed, the home side’s re-jigged attacking line up began to look more at ease with each other, and while clear-cut chances were still few and far between, Harbin’s early spell of dominance began to wane. This was compounded in the 34th minute, when Harbin defender Xu Dong’s positioning allowed Wang Jiayu to slip Li Haowen through with a precise through ball. Li showed an impressive first and second touch to take the ball from behind him and past the diving Harbin goalkeeper Wang Jingping. While momentarily, it appeared as though he may have lost control of the ball whilst rounding the ‘keeper, Li was composed enough to stretch and slide the ball into the empty net.
Following Li’s goal, the first half went rather flat, with the little in the way of meaningful opportunities on goal from either side, as the ball remained firmly planted in the middle of the park. However, when the two sides reappeared for the second half, it was again the visitors who started brighter.
Referee Ma Li showed Ricardo Steer a yellow card for an unconvincing dive in the box not long after the restart, but the Colombian was not to be denied a second time 15 minutes later, as his run into the box from wide on the left was halted by Lv Wenjun. The winger hardly shoved Steer, however, with his hands on the back of the Harbin striker, he couldn’t really have any complaints about Ma’s decision. Up stepped Dori to take the spot kick, and Yan Junling’s best Bruce Grobbelaar impersonation had the desired effect, as the Brazilian’s effort lacked the power to take it past the diving Shanghai ‘keeper. Ransford Addo slid in efficiently to deny Han Xu the rebound and East Asia escaped unscathed.
Once again, the second half mirrored the first, as both sides again became involved in a midfield battle and openings grew scarce. Fu Huan impressed down the right hand side again, and almost put his side further ahead with just a minute of regular time remaining, however, his shot didn’t live up to the preceding run and sailed harmlessly past Wang Jingping’s left hand post, leaving the score-line unchanged.
Despite not exactly showing a stellar performance in their last game before the summer break, Xi Zhikang will be happy to have ground out a result without arguably his two most important players in Hysen and Wu Lei. East Asia can look back on their opening 14 games with pride given their lack of experience in the CSL, with 23 of 42 points taken – leaving them within touching distance of Guangzhou R&F in 3rd place – and an unbeaten home record still intact.
Shanghai East Asia: 1 Yan Junling; 25 Ransford Addo, 21 Ibán Javier Cuadrado, 4 Wang Shenchao, 23 Fu Huan, 5 Wang Jiajie, 20 Wang Jiayu, 6 Cai Huikang, 11 Lv Wenjun, 12 Li Haowen (66′ – 15 Lin Chuangyi), 36 Daniel McBreen.
Harbin Yiteng: 26 Wang Jingping; 27 Li Jian, 4 Wisdom Fofo Agbo, 17 Xu Dong, 16 Wang Dalong, 6 Han Xu (83′ – 20 Han Deming), 23 Ricardo Steer, 8 Adam Hughes, 33 Rodrigo Paulista, 22 Zhao Wei (52′ – 11 Lv Yongdi), 10 Dori.