Round 8 saw Beijing BG, Qingdao Jonoon and Hohhot Zhongyou claim important wins as last week’s top four all dropped points and things get increasingly tight near the top. Dalian and Wuhan both needed very late goals to prevent surprising home defeats and new managers in Tianjin and Hunan got off to losing starts as their sides converge in the relegation zone.
Beijing BG 2-1 Hebei CFFC
Jin Hui was the hero as his double gave Beijing BG a huge win over local and promotion rivals Hebei CFFC. It took just two minutes for Jin, who had been out of the BG line-up for some time, to open the scoring following a Yan Xiangchuang free kick. However, within a minute, Song Wenjie had headed in a Zhu Haiwei cross to put the score at 1-1 with less than five minutes played.
The game slowed after the frantic start but Jin once again found the net two minutes before half-time to give his side the lead at the interval. Hebei were unable to find the breakthrough in an increasingly niggly second half and the full time whistle signalled the end of a four game winless run for BG.
After apparently falling off the promotion pace, BG’s victory means they are within just three points of the top two despite being down in sixth position. If further indication of the closeness of the league is needed, Hebei’s loss, after a four game winning streak, has caused them to fall from second to fifth and just six points now separate the top twelve sides.
A high volume of draws and a lack of consistency among the top teams is keeping things very close and for these two heavily funded sides that might not be a bad thing with a summer transfer window coming up.
Dalian Aerbin 3-3 Guizhou Zhicheng
A hat-trick from Yves Ekwalla Herman wasn’t enough to give Zhicheng a famous victory as ten-man Dalian staged a dramatic late comeback to claim a point against their newly-promoted opponents. Prior to this game, Dalian had won four from four on their own turf without conceding a goal, and everything seemed to be going according to plan when Bruno Meneghel gave them an eighth minute lead.
However, things started to go wrong nine minutes after half-time when Zhu Xiaogang fouled Zhicheng captain Lian Chen in the area. Herman’s successful spot kick was the first goal Dalian had conceded in 414 minutes of home football this season, but it was just the beginning of their troubles.
Within seven minutes of Herman’s goal, Aerbin were a man down when left-back Eddi Francis saw red following a tussle with Zhicheng’s Brazilian forward Rodrigo. Dalian survived their disadvantage until the 79th minute when Herman netted twice in three minutes to apparently put the game beyond their struggling hosts.
However, with only two minutes of regular time remaining, Meneghel gave Aerbin hope with his second of the day and sixth of the season before centre back Nicklas Backman got an injury time equaliser to save his team from a second straight defeat. The draw preserves Dalian’s status as league leaders on goal difference and they can be extremely proud of their fight back, even if the result was not what they wanted before the game.
Conversely, had you offered Zhicheng a point at the start of the game, they’d gladly have taken it but, given the circumstances, this could prove to be a key two points dropped in a relegation battle the Guiyang side still look likely to be a part of later in the year.
Hunan Billows 0-1 Qingdao Jonoon
A solitary goal from Zhu Jianrong on the stroke of half time was enough to give Jonoon a victory which puts them level on points with top side Dalian Aerbin. It was the second time in as many weeks that Zhu, replacing the injured Deivdy Reiss, has scored Jonoon’s winner as the Shandong side continue their seven game unbeaten run since getting hammered by Harbin Yiteng in the opening game of the season.
Meanwhile, Hunan’s disastrous start to the season continues with caretaker boss Zhang Xu unable to reverse the team’s slide despite naming a very attacking line-up. Zhang stepped in after Aleksander Stankov’s sacking last weekend and named Luis Carlos Cabezas, Igor Buzanovic, Li Xiang and Chen Zijie togther in the starting eleven.
The latter three of the attacking quartet are all winter signings but Stankov had been reluctant to play them all at once as he took a more conservative approach. Zhang showed no such reservations, but his side still drew a blank despite Jonoon being down to ten men for the last 25 minutes after Li Peng received a second booking. Hunan’s only win of the season came against bottom club Tianjin Songjiang who they now join in the relegation zone.
Hohhot Zhongyou 3-0 Beijing Institute of Technology
Hohhot comfortably dispatched Beijing Institute of Technology to move up to sixth in the table, just two points behind top side Dalian Aerbin. The first half remained goalless despite Wang Yunlong and Dori both hitting the woodwork, but Zhongyou pulled away from their opponents in the second period.
A 54th minute strike from Zhang Yong was followed up by a late brace from Dori. The former Harbin Yiteng striker’s day was slightly overshadowed by an injury time red card picked up for a second booking, but he can comfort himself in the knowledge that his late double brought Zhongyou’s 2015 goal total 14, which puts them level with his old club as League One’s top scoring club.
Xinjiang 1-1 Harbin Yiteng
Cristian Danalache was once again on target for Xinjiang but, unusually, the big Romanian’s strike came early in the game. This allowed Yiteng time to equalise and claim their fifth consecutive away draw. Danalache grabbed his eighth of the season with a 26th minute header but Harbin’s Li Xudong levelled things up mid-way through the second half.
Li’s strike means that Harbin remain unbeaten despite playing seven of their eight games on the road this season. However, the failure to claim three points also means the boys from the Ice City have won just one in their last six. With an increase in home games over the coming months, that record can be expected to improve and it will need to if an immediate return to the Super League is to be achieved.
Qingdao Hainiu 1-1 Yanbian Changbaishan
A pair of penalties ensured that these sides shared the points and that Yanbian maintained their unbeaten run despite finding it increasingly difficult to win. A handball in the penalty area allowed Dorde Rakic to put Hainiu in the lead in the 54th minute but, 14 minutes later, Jailton Paraiba returned the favour after Qingdao’s Jiang Tao gave away a spot kick.
Considering the difficult circumstances in which Yanbian entered this season, their unbeaten run remains impressive, but this is their third straight 1-1 draw and they will probably need to start picking up some wins soon if they are going to make a serious run at promotion.
Tianjin Songjiang 0-1 Shenzhen FC
The mid-week firing of manager Drazen Besek failed to lead to an upturn in Songjiang’s fortunes as they slumped to a fifth straight defeat. A 57th minute strike from Andre Senghor was enough to ensure that Sun Jianjun’s first game as caretaker boss ended in defeat and that Tianjin remain bottom of the league.
Shenzhen underwent a managerial change of their own less than a month ago, and new Korean boss Lee Lim-saeng has now presided over a four game unbeaten run which has seen his side ascend into the top half of the table. After the poor start which led to Li Yi being replaced by Lee, the southern side are just four points off of the top two and have still only tasted defeat once this season.
Wuhan Zall 1-1 Jiangxi Liansheng
There was more excitement in Wuhan’s second home derby in the space of three weeks, although the outcome of this encounter was much less to Zall’s liking. Jiangxi were making the short trip from Nanchang and looked to have stolen a victory when Xian Tao capitalised on an error from Ai Zhibo to give his side a 63rd minute lead.
The visitors held out for almost half an hour, and looked to have secured a first away win of the season, until centre back Randsford Addo rose to head in a Li Hang free kick in the third minute of stoppage time. Of course, the goal prompted celebrations at the time but, in the long term, Wuhan will have to view this game as two important points dropped against a struggling side.
For their part, Jiangxi will be disappointed to have conceded so late, but the point was enough to pull them out of the relegation zone for the first time since the second week of the season.