League One’s second round of fixtures featured three teams maintaining a 100% record, late drama in Hebei and a David Beckham moment in Jiangxi.
Dalian Aerbin 1-0 Beijing BG
A 77th minute strike from Bruno Meneghel was enough to separate the sides in round 2’s most eagerly anticipated clash. With both teams in strong contention for promotion, this contest provided an early litmus test of each side’s credentials and, while it’s Dalian who keep their 100% record in tact, BG did enough to prove that they are not far off the pace after heavy investment in the summer.
As well as being a clash of League One heavyweights, this game also saw BG manager Aleksander Stanojevic return to the Dalian Sports Centre where he led Aerbin to a fifth placed finish in their first Super League season in 2012. Neither Stanojevic nor midfielder Lv Peng, who BG bought from Aerbin in the winter, had a winning return to the northeast coast thanks to Meneghel’s successful conversion of Eddy Francois’s cross. It’s the Brazilian’s second goal in as many games and keeps his side atop the fledgling table on goal difference.
Jiangxi Liansheng 1-2 Harbin Yiteng
Harbin kept pace with Dalian courtesy of an expected victory over their newly promoted opponents in a game that will rightly be remembered for an absolutely spectacular goal from Jiangxi’s Adi Rocha. The Brazilian, playing only his second game for the club, picked up a loose ball in the centre circle and, under pressure from two Yiteng midfielders, proceeded to lob goalkeeper Bai Xiaolei from five yards inside his own half. It was a goal so good that China’s major sports websites broke protocol by actually making a League One highlight available, and it was a remarkable way for Liansheng to score their first ever goal in the second tier.
The Chinese media have made inevitable comparisons to David Beckham’s famous strike against Wimbledon in the mid-nineties, but it is actually better because the forward, who just signed from Lithuanian club Zalgiris Vilnius, had very little time to set himself before pulling the trigger. Unfortunately, the 39h minute beauty only levelled the scores after an earlier header from Ricardo Steer put Yiteng in front, and the away side took all three points when Bu Xin converted his second penalty in as many weeks in the 69th minute. The spot kick condemned Liansheng to their second straight home defeat, but at least fans could leave the stadium with fond memories of a truly remarkable goal.
Beijing Institute of Technology 2-0 Guizhou Zhicheng
BIT came out of round two as the only other team with a 100% record thanks to first half goals from Andres Marquez and Wang Erzhuo. Marquez headed in his first goal for the club 17th minute before Wang’s solo effort doubled the lead six minutes later. The game was all but over in the 38th minute when Zhicheng captain Lian Chen was sent off for a second bookable offence and BIT comfortably held on to put themselves level on points with Dalian and Harbin.
Hunan Billows 0-3 Hohhot Zhongyou
Changsha hosted what was undoubtedly the biggest shock of the round as the newly promoted Zhongyou eased past a Hunan side expected to be chasing a place in the Super League. The game was goalless at the interval but Dori opened the scoring when he grabbed his first goal for the club seven minutes after the break. Wang Yunlong became the second player to net his first goal in Zhongyou colours five minutes from the end and Lin Kun completed the rout with a long range shot in stoppage time. The win is quite an achievement for the Inner Mongolians but Hunan coach Aleksander Stankov has talked of re-evaluating his approach after seeing a side with an embarrassment of attacking riches draw two straight blanks at home.
Qingdao Hainiu 0-2 Qingdao Jonoon
Jonoon showed that they are not quite ready to give up their status as Qingdao’s top dog in front of over 20,000 fans at the Yizhong Sports Centre. Jonoon’s opener came in the 22nd minute when Wang Jun netted a penalty after a Xue Ya’nan foul on Ismael Fofana. The away side maintained their narrow lead for the remainder of the contest until second half substitute Deivdy Reis sealed the win two minutes into injury time with his first goal for Jonoon.
The victory will go some way to restoring Jonoon’s confidence after their humiliating 4-1 reverse to Harbin Yiteng on the opening day, but Hainiu’s worrying slide continues. The derby defeat represents their fifteenth straight league game without a win and they are the only side apart from Hunan Billows yet to score this season.
Wuhan Zall 0-1 Tianjin Songjiang
Although he downplayed the vengeance aspect in post-match interviews, Songjiang manager Drazen Besek got one over on the club who sacked him last August by leaving the Xinhua Road Stadium with all three points. A second half header from 35-year-old Brazilian striker Nei was all that separated the sides in a tight game that also featured a late red card for Songjiang winger Mario Lucio.
Hebei CFFC 2-2 Yanbian Changbaishan
Yanbian escaped from Hebei with a point following a whirlwind finish at the Yutong international Sports Centre. After a scoreless first half, Steve’s second goal in as many games put the visitors 1-0 up with almost an hour gone, but the game really kicked into life with less than three minutes of regulation time remaining when Miroslav Radovic headed in an equaliser. That was followed up by a long range effort from fellow Serbian Nenad Milijas three minutes into injury time which looked to have sealed Hebei’s first win of the season. However, Yanbian had other ideas and, just one minute later, Korean Ha Tae-hyun earned his side an unlikely draw.
Ha’s late strike means Yanbian remain unbeaten after two away games, while big spending Hebei have now failed to win two consecutive home matches against theoretically inferior opposition.
Shenzhen FC 1-2 Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard
A brace from former Super League golden boot winner Cristian Danalache gave Xinjiang their first win of the season a very long way from home. Following last week’s 4-0 mauling in Dalian, things looked bad for the away side when Shenzhen’s prolific forward Babacar Gueye opened the scoring after 24 minutes. The advantage lasted just six minutes, however, as Danalache headed in an equaliser. The Romanian then doubled his and Xinjiang’s tally in the 82nd minute to give the Urumqi outfit all three points.
It’s a big win for Xinjiang, but the close to 11,000 Shenzhen fans who turned out for this fixture will be rightly concerned that the team has taken just one point from two home games against opposition that finished below them last season.
Things to look out for in round 3…
Thanks to the upcoming internationals there is now a two week break before the next round of fixtures, but there is plenty to look forward to when League One resumes.
The weekend’s biggest game will see Wuhan Zall play host to Dalian Aerbin. Last season’s third placed side may be fresh from a home defeat to Tianjin Songjiang, but should be motivated by knowing they will need to make a dent in Aerbin’s 100% record if they are not to fall away from the leading pack too early. The game will also see Dalian’s Zhu Ting return to the club where he spent the last two seasons.
Hebei CFFC welcome Harbin Yiteng in another eagerly anticipated clash. Early season results make Harbin favourites, but Hebei showed enough in their game against Yanbian to suggest they may be able to halt Yiteng’s perfect start. It would be a major statement of intent if the upstart club can beat the boys from the Ice City, but a dra is not beyond the realms of possibility.
The Drazen Besek roadshow continues when Hunan Billows take on Tianjin Songjiang in Changsha. The game sees Songjiang’s Croatian manager make his second straight trip to a former club and, having seen Billows fail to score in their first too matches, his well organised team will fancy their chances of grabbing a second straight win on the road.
Guizhou Zhicheng vs Yanbian Changbaishan is a contest that might have taken place in the latter stages of this season’s League Two playoffs had it not been for the capitulations of Shaanxi Wuzhou, Chengdu Tiancheng and Shenyang Zhongze. It’s Zhicheng’s first home game of the season but Yanbian, who had about a month longer to prepare for League One than their opponents, look to have responded to their unexpected jump up the divisions better and are likely to leave Guiyang with their unbeaten record in tact.
After their disappointing loss to Dalian, Beijing BG will hope to return to winning ways when Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard come to the capital. The Urumqi side arrive after an impressive win in Shenzhen and their Brazilian forward Ferro will have something to prove after being released by BG this winter. However, Xinjiang haven’t beaten BG in four attempts and there is no reason to believe that is going to change this time around.
Shenzhen FC will be hoping to pick up their first win in three straight home games when high flying Beijing Institute of Technology come to town. The team from the capital have won two from two and will fancy their chances against a struggling Shenzhen side. BIT’s defence is yet to concede a goal, while Shenzhen striker Babacar Gueye has scored in each of his first two matches. The outcome of the game may well depend on which of these two records is still in tact at the end of ninety minutes.
Qingdao Jonoon clash with Hohhot Zhongyou in a meeting of teams who recovered from opening day defeats to grab three points in the second round of games. Qingdao should be considered strong favourites for the match, but the Inner Mongolian outfit’s 3-0 win in Hunan proves they are able to hold their own in this league.
Finally, Jiangxi Liansheng have an excellent chance to get their first League One points on the board when Qingdao Hainiu visit Nanchang. Jiangxi may be the only side to lose both their opening games, but Hainiu are woefully out of form and have failed to score so far this season. Fans in Nanchang are unlikely to see a goal like they did this past weekend, but should their side overcome Hainiu they probably won’t mind too much.