An exciting round of League One action saw Wuhan defeat Hunan in a thriller, Hohhot and Harbin winning in front of huge audiences, Dalian once again going clear at the top and Hebei holding off a comeback to continue their impressive run.
Wuhan Zall 3-2 Hunan Billows
Wuhan came out on top of a surprisingly thrilling derby courtesy of a late comeback and an injury time penalty from Brice Jovial. Although the crowd apparently numbered less than 5,000, there was a raucous atmosphere at the Xinhua Road Stadium as these two rivals from neighbouring provinces faced off. Despite the buzz in the stadium, thanks in no part to boisterous travelling support, expectations of a classic were not high as each side had managed to notch just three goals in their first five games of the season.
After dominating the early exchanges against a defensive minded Hunan side set up with five across the back, Zall gained the upper hand in the 27th minute when Rafa Jorda converted a Yao Hanlin cross. It was the big Spaniard’s first goal at the club and was enough to send the home side into the half time break with the lead.
Hunan manager Aleksander Stankov changed things up after the interval by introducing Chen Zijie on the left-wing and pushing fellow winter signing Li Xiang forward to partner Luis Carlos Cabezas up front. Billows’ new 4-4-2 formation really opened up the game and, after both sides had chances, it was Li Xiang who found the net by heading in a corner after 70 minutes.
The former BIT forward’s strike led to him being sacrificed as Hunan reverted back to a five man defence, but the game remained very open as Wuhan pushed for a winner. The increasing gaps appearing in Zall’s back line gave Hunan several chances and Chen Zijie was able to put them ahead when he scrambled in a messy goal in the 77th minute.
It was the former international’s first goal for Hunan since his high profile arrival from Guizhou Renhe in the winter, but he didn’t have much time to celebrate as Brice Jovial restored parity just three minutes later. The former Chengdu Tiancheng forward’s strike came just 30 seconds after a free kick from Zall’s Li Hang hit the bar and galvanised the home side who subsequently besieged the Hunan goal.
Billows looked to have held out until goalkeeper Dong Jianhong brought down full back Ke Zhao during a goal mouth scramble. The foul happened just as the clock ticked over to 90 minutes and Hunan wasted most of the three minutes of injury by protesting the decision with the referee. Jovial was eventually afforded the opportunity to score his fourth of the season by converting from the spot and the visitors had neither the time nor the energy to launch a fight back.
The victory is Wuhan’s second of the season and sees them ascend into sixth position. Meanwhile, Hunan’s problems continue despite signs their attack is improving. They have now sunk to thirteenth with just one win in six matches and hopes of promotion already look to be fading less than two months into the season.
Hohhot Zhongyou 4-1 Guizhou Zhicheng
A reported 37,000 fans turned out as Hohhot hosted its first professional football match since 2012. Zhongyou, who spent their first five games on the road to avoid playing in Inner Mongolia’s frigid winter climate, relocated to the city at the end of last season after winning promotion from League Two as Taiyuan Zhongyou.
In order to achieve that goal, they overcame Zhicheng on penalties after two drawn matches, leaving the Guiyang side to wait for Shenyang Zhongze to default two weeks before the start of the season in order to attain their place in League One. The difference in preparation time has been marked as this win propels Zhongyou to fifth in the table, while Zhicheng remain rooted to the bottom without a win.
It took only seven minutes to get the masses on their feet as Wang Yunlong opened the scoring for the home side. Zhang Yong doubled the lead mid-way through the first half and Guo Sheng, who once played for Zhicheng’s city rivals Renhe, headed in a third in the 36th minute. The visitors pulled one back just before the break but Wang Yunlong confirmed the victory when he grabbed his second of the game in the 57th minute.
Zhongyou may be new to Hohhot, but it’s clear there is an enthusiasm for the side among the locals. Should they continue winning like this, there is no reason to believe that the excitement will abate any time soon.
Harbin Yiteng 2-1 Beijing Institute of Technology
Harbin marked their first home game of the season with a win against a battling BIT side in Heilongjiang. Over 21,000 Yiteng fans turned out to welcome their side home and, just like their counterparts in Hohhot, they had to wait only seven minutes to celebrate a goal.
Jair Reinoso provided the assist for Bu Xin who scored his fourth goal of the season and his first that was not from the penalty spot. Thirteen minutes later, BIT defender Abel Nazario grabbed his second in as many games to pull things level but, six minutes after the break, Bu Xin turned provider for Li Jiahe who restored the home side’s lead.
Yiteng’s Han Xu gave the home fans a nervous final 20 minutes when he got himself sent off for a second yellow card but Harbin held out for the win and have now jumped back up to second in the league.
Xinjiang 1-1 Yanbian Changbaishan
Nearly 14,000 fans attended Xinjiang’s first home game of the season against a Yanbian side who have confounded expectations with their excellent start to the season. After a goalless first-half, Yanbian’s South Korean striker Ha Tae-goon opened the scoring in the 67th minute after an assist from Wu Yongchun.
However, 10 minutes from time, Cristian Danalache equalised from a corner. It’s the Romanian’s second late equaliser in as many games and it has made him League One’s top scorer with five in 2015.
Beijing BG 1-2 Qingdao Jonoon
Beijing BG fell to their first home defeat of the season as former Super League stalwarts Jonoon showed that they are not yet ready to be surpassed by big spending upstarts. Things seemed to be going well for the capital city side when Carmelo Valencia gave them the lead in the 32nd minute.
It was the Colombian’s first goal for BG since moving from Tianjin TEDA in the winter but he was upstaged by another winter signing in the second half. Jonoon’s Deivy Reis tied things up in the 62nd minute when he headed in Quan Lei’s corner and the Brazilian added a second eleven minutes later thanks to an assist from Guo Liang. The result allows Jonoon to leapfrog their opponents in the table and condemns BG to a third straight game without a win.
Dalian Aerbin 2-0 Jiangxi Liansheng
Aerbin went two points clear at the top of the table with a comfortable win over the newly-promoted strugglers who were taking to the road for the first time in 2015. Bruno Meneghel headed in a Chen Tao cross to make it 1-0 after 13 minutes and his heavily deflected effort doubled the lead three minutes after half-time.
The win came as no surprise and maintains a Dalian’s perfect home record. The northerners have now won four from four on their own turf; scoring nine and conceding zero in the process.
Tianjin Songjiang 2-3 Hebei CFFC
Hebei held off a spirited second half fight back from Songjiang to secure their third consecutive win. Nenad Milijas gave the visitors the lead with an 18th minute penalty resulting from a foul on Song Wenjie.
Four minutes later, the game swung decisively in Hebei’s favour as Songjiang centre back Juan Andres Bolanos had a goal bound header cleared of the line, only to see Abdurahim Laajab double the visitors lead within 60 seconds. Song Wenjie added a third after half an hour to send Hebei into the interval three goals to the good.
Songjiang looked dead and buried, but a goal from Liu Qing ten minutes into the second half gave them hope. Mario Lucio narrowed the deficit even further with a sublime 71st minute lob but Songjiang could not find a third and have now picked up just one point in their last four matches.
Qingdao Hainiu 1-1 Shenzhen FC
Just as they did twice last season, Hainiu and Shenzhen shared the spoils. Shi Zhe gave the home side the advantage with a 26th minute lob, but Andre Senghor equalised seven minutes after the break when he followed up on a Ren Peng free kick that had struck the woodwork.
The Senegalese striker’s leveller means that Shenzhen have now drawn their last four games 1-1 and have had five out of six games this season end by the same scoreline. While the point means they’ve still only lost one game this year, it also means they continue to partner bottom club Guizhou Zhicheng as League One’s only winless side.