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League One Round 7 Wrap: Hebei put League on Notice with Decisive Win Over Dalian

An eventful Round 7 saw Dalian fall to their first defeat thanks to a strong looking Hebei and Tianjin Songjiang sink to the bottom of the table thanks to Guizhou and Shenzhen’s first wins. There was also a victory for Qingdao Jonoon in a battle of Super League old boys, a late goal flurry in Jiangxi and a managerial casualty in Hunan.

Hebei CFFC 2-0 Dalian Aerbin

Hebei officially announced their arrival as serious promotion contenders with a convincing victory over league leaders Dalian. A first half brace from Serbian Nenad Milijas was enough to condemn Aerbin to their first defeat of the season, while also handing CFFC a fourth straight win.

It took Milijas just six minutes to open the scoring and his second came when he headed in a cross from the impressive Du Wenyang on the stroke of half time. Despite beginning the second half two goals down, Aerbin were unable to get into the game as Hebei continued to threaten.

Chen Tao's elbow to Nenad Milijas (on the ground) was so painful the Serbian tried to knock himself out through self-strangulation

Chen Tao’s elbow to Nenad Milijas (on the ground) was so painful the Serbian tried to knock himself out through self-strangulation

The home side looked particularly dangerous down the flanks with Song Wenjie, Zhu Haiwei and Du Wenyang all causing the visitors seriously problems and forcing Dalian coach Mikael Stahre to withdraw both his fullbacks, Eddy Francis and Shan Pengfei, during the second half. Having already gotten away with a similar action on Abdulrahim Laajab earlier in the half, Dalian captain Chen Tao was sent off for a 90th minute elbow on Milijas and Laajab almost turned the game into a rout when he struck the underside of the bar in stoppage time.

It’s a huge win for Hebei who now find themselves second to Dalian on goal difference in the current table, but with a head-to-head advantage over their rivals which will be the priority at the end of the season. After a slow start, the heavily hyped big winter spenders have settled well under marquee coach Radomir Antic and now look like they are justifying their pre-season tag as serious promotion candidates.

Despite missing foreign star Miroslav Radovic for the last two games, the team has continued to perform well with Milijas being the standout performer. However, the former Premier League veteran has hardly been carrying the side as Luo Senwen, Song Wenjie, Zhu Haiwei, Du Wei, Du Wenyang and Hao Shuang have all put in noteworthy performances over this run.

Before getting carried away by this result, however, it is worth noting that Dalian have been far from impressive on their travels this year. They may have a perfect home record, but remain winless on the road having only picked up two draws prior to this contest. That being said, the side from Qinhuangdao are looking better each week which will rightly be making their promotion rivals very nervous.

Thanks For The Points: Zhiheng captain Lian Chen seems happy to welcome the hapless Songjiang to Guizhou

Thanks For The Points: Zhiheng captain Lian Chen seems happy to welcome the hapless Songjiang to Guizhou

Guizhou Zhicheng 3-1 Tianjin Songjiang

Tianjin Songjiang replaced Zhicheng at the bottom of the table after falling to defeat at the hands of the previously winless side in Guizhou. Zhicheng’s Yves Ekwalla Herman opened the scoring in the 26th minute after reacting to a blocked shot from Ilhamjan Iminjan and Jiang Liang doubled the lead with a deflected effort fifteen minutes later. Rodrigo headed in an Iminjan cross on the stroke of half time and Songjiang only managed to pull one back in the second half with a 64th minute strike.

The win will come as a relief for Zhicheng but heaps more pressure on to Tianjin manager Drazen Besek. His side has now taken just one point from their last five games and this is the second match in a row that they have conceded three in the first half. Songjiang were a comfortable middle table side before Besek took over in the winter and things will have to start changing soon if they are to avoid an end of season relegation struggle.

Xinjiang 2-1 Hunan Billows

Cristian Danalache continued his prolific form by scoring both goals for 10-man Xinjiang and handing Hunan a defeat which has cost manager Alexander Stankov his job. It took the Romanian forward just 3 minutes to convert a cross from Ferro, but his Brazilian supplier was, perhaps harshly, sent off for a handball during a Xinjiang corner in the 22nd minute. Li Xiang needed just three minutes to make the advantage pay when he beat veteran centre back Vicente to Liu Xinyu’s pass to level the scores with his third goal of the season.

Remarkably though, Billows were unable to hold on for even a point as Xu Qing assisted Danalache’s winner in the 63rd minute. It was the former Super League golden boot winner’s seventh of the season and fifth in four games. Importantly, the striker who signed from Qingdao Jonoon this winter has also shown a knack for scoring crucial goals by grabbing four second half winners or equalisers in just seven games.

In this case, the former Jiangsu Sainty star’s winner led to Hunan’s General Manager Zhang Xu removing Stankov from the head coaching position and appointing himself in the role on a temporary basis. The move comes as Hunan have managed to collect just one win in their opening seven despite investing in a wealth of attacking options in the winter. Earlier in the season, Stankov, who guided Dalian Aerbin to the Super League in 2010, said he still hadn’t worked out his best side and it looks like now he will never have the chance.

Celebration Time: Yanbian were justifiably ecstatic over Ha Tae-goon's late equaliser

Celebration Time: Yanbian were justifiably ecstatic over Ha Tae-goon’s late equaliser

Yanbian Changbaishan 1-1 Harbin Yiteng

Almost 20,000 fans, including nearly 1,000 travelling from Harbin, witnessed Yanbian and Yiteng maintain their unbeaten records and stay level on points in the table. Jair Reinoso capitalised on a defensive error to put the visitors in front after 49 minutes but Ha Tae-goon preserved the zero in Yanbian’s loss column with his fifth goal of the season in the final minute of injury time.

While they both remain unbeaten, neither side will be entirely satisfied with this result as it allowed Hebei CFFC to surpass them in the table. It also denied Yanbian a first home win of the season while condemning Harbin to a fourth straight draw on the road.

Qingdao Jonoon 1-0 Wuhan Zall

Zhu Jianrong’s 57th minute header was enough to give Jonoon the victory in a clash between the two sides relegated from 2013’s Super League. Visa issues had kept Jonoon’s Honduran midfielder Jorge Claros out of the game and things looked to be getting worse for the home side when Brazilian forward Deivdy Reiss went off injured after half an hour.

However, it was Reiss’s replacement Zhu Jianrong who got the winner thanks to a Wang Wei assist and the Shandong outfit are now up to the dizzy heights of fifth in the table. Wuhan manager Zheng Bin blamed the pitch for his side’s poor performance, but they look to be in danger of replicating last season’s protocol of defeating weaker teams, while getting very little from game against top half sides.

Shenzhen FC 3-2 Hohhot Zhongyou

Captain's Crunch: Zhongyou and Shenzhen's fiery captains Jonas Salley (30) and Babacar Gueye (10) fight for the ball

Captain’s Crunch: Zhongyou and Shenzhen’s fiery captains Jonas Salley (30) and Babacar Gueye (10) fight for the ball

A dramatic second half come back allowed Shenzhen to register their first win of the season at the seventh time of asking. It took Zhongyou’s Wang Yunlong just two minutes to score his fourth of the year and William added a second by punctuating a 30th minute counter attack.

The over 10,000 in attendance must have expected yet another disappointing night, but Wang Yunlong’s 55th minute withdrawal changed the complexion of the game and Ling Sihao pulled one back ten minutes later. An 80th minute leveller from Andre Senghor followed and Shenzhen captain Babacar Gueye showed he was not content to settle or a fifth straight draw by bagging the winner just two minutes later. The second half will be viewed with disappointment by the usually defensively solid Zhongyou, but the win will come as a huge relief to a Shenzhen side that have underachieved against theoretically inferior opposition thus far in 2015.

Jiangxi Liansheng 3-3 Beijing BG

Jiangxi gave up the lead three times in a game which saw five goals scored in the last sixteen minutes. After controlling much of the first half, BG found themselves 1-0 down at half-time thanks to a 45th minute header from Brazilian centre back Demerson.

Then, after 29 barren second half minutes, Danko Lazovic’s low free kick levelled the scores and unleashed a deluge of goals. Jaja gave Jiangxi their second lead just three minute later only for substitute Godfred Karikari to restore parity in the 81st minute. And, within five minutes of Karikari’s strike, the score was 3-3 thanks to goals from Jiangxi’s Adi Rocha and Beijing’s Carmelo Valencia.

Although fighting back three times is certainly something to be proud of, this result marks BG’s fourth consecutive failure to win. They remain only five points from the top two, but will have to turn things around fast in order to keep up with the pace of the promotion chasing sides.

Hu Ming (17) celebrates for BIT

Hu Ming (17) celebrates for BIT

Beijing Institute of Technology 3-1 Qingdao Hainiu

A 23rd minute opener from Andres Marquez and a brace from Hu Ming, scored two minutes either side of half time, proved enough for BIT to overcome Hainiu in Beijing. Wan Houliang pulled a goal back later in the second half but the damage had already been done.

The result was BIT’s first win in five and lifts them to sixth in the table. Meanwhile, Hu Ming’s strikes bring his individual tally up to four and means he is now level with Hohhot Zhongyou’s Wang Yunlong and Harbin Yiteng’s Bu Xin as League One’s top Chinese scorer.

Based in China for five years, Jamie has been exploring tiny little third tier Hubei cities without football teams or decent internet connections, but is now a regular at China League One side Wuhan Zall. A keen football afficionado, he regularly takes in the Chinese Super League, enjoying matches in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Nanjing. Jamie is also a keen observer of the fortunes of the Chinese National side.

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