A fantastic week of League One action saw metaphorically huge wins for Yanbian Changbaishan and Hebei CFFC over Dalian Aerbin and Qingdao Jonoon, respectively, and a literally huge win for Wuhan Zall over Shenzhen FC. Those results, along with BGs comeback win in the Beijing derby, mean that the top seven are now separated by just a measly three points. If that’s not enough, Hunan Billows and Tianjin Songjiang are showing increasing signs of life down at the bottom as Xinjiang and Shenzhen look to be moving closer to danger.
Yanbian Changbaishan 2-0 Dalian Aerbin
Yanbian climbed to the top of the table with a surprising win over Dalian that has blown the promotion race wide open. Ha Tae-goon continued his excellent form by bagging his ninth league goal of the season in the 57th minute and Jin Bo sealed the victory three minutes from time
Yanbian may have gone into the game unbeaten, but 60% of their matches had ended in draws and few would have predicted them overcoming an Aerbin side that has led the league since the opening round. Over 20,000 supporters turned out to watch this local derby between sides based in the neighbouring provinces of Jilin and Liaoning and they were not disappointed.
Their side, which was supposed to start the season in League Two, overcame a team relegated from last season’s Super League on the final day. What’s more, they did it without Gambian forward Steve who is serving out a four game suspension. It should be noted that Dalian top scorer Bruno Meneghel was also missing but, while Steve’s replacement Jin Bo stepped up and scored, Dalian were unable to find the net without their absent Brazilian.
The result, coupled with scorelines elsewhere, puts Yanbian top based on their head-to-head record, but also means that the top seven are now separated by just three points. Even if the story of Yanbian’s phenomenal revival doesn’t grab you, this was a great outcome for anyone wanting to see an exciting League One season.
Hebei CFFC 3-1 Qingdao Jonoon
An awesome first half display was enough for Hebei CFFC to pull themselves right back into the promotion race and end Jonoon’s five game winning run. The set pieces of Nenad Milijas proved decisive as the Serbian had two assists from corners and buried a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
It took 20 minutes for Hebei to find the breakthrough as Milijas’s corner cleared everyone in the middle before reaching an unmarked Ibba Laajab. The Norwegian took advantage of his space with an emphatic top corner finish and the home side’s lead was doubled in the 35th minute when veteran centre back Du Wei headed in another Milijas delivery.
With half-time looming, some neat passing between Milijas and Laajab led to the Scandinavian being tripped in the area. Milijas stepped up to bag his fourth successful 12-yard conversion of the season and bring his total 2015 goal tally up to eight.
Remarkably, the strike meant that Jonoon had conceded as many goals in this 45 minutes as they had in their entire last seven matches and they were unable to recover. Quan Lei notched a consolation in the 58th minute, but Hebei comfortably held on to pull themselves within one point of the league leading trio.
Last year, when Jonoon had just been relegated from the CSL and Hebei were freshly promoted from League Two, the Shandong side won both of these teams’ meetings by an aggregate score of 7-1. This result shows that, despite Jonoon’s excellent recent form, the landscape of this season’s second tier is very different.
Wuhan Zall 6-0 Shenzhen FC
Wuhan propelled themselves back into the promotion race with an emphatic win over a dreadful Shenzhen side. A hat-trick from Rafa Jorda, a brace from the outstanding Yao Hanlin and an opener from Brice Jovial gave Zall League One’s biggest winning margin of the season and brought them to within two points of the promotion places.
The nearly 5,000 fans who braved the sweltering afternoon heat may have wondered why they’d bothered after an opening 15 minutes in which Shenzhen looked slightly the better of two struggling sides. However, all that changed in the 17th minute when Liu Yun played a through ball to Jovial. The Guadeloupean international, who was still some way from goal and surrounded by four Shenzhen players, looked like he was going nowhere but the opposition parted like the Red Sea, allowing him the space to bear down on keeper Niu Ben and give the home side the lead.
Although Jovial’s opener galvanised the fans, the contest was still close at that point and hinged on a key minute just before the half hour mark. It started when Zall centre back Ai Zhibo hacked wildly at a Shenzhen long ball. The captain kicked nothing but air and this gave Babacar Gueye a one on one with goalkeeper Sun Shoubo. The usually lethal Senagalese hitman placed his finish a little too close to Sun and the 31-year-old was able to block the effort. Within 60 seconds the ball was in the Shenzhen net when Yao Hanlin finished off a rapid counter.
The next four minutes saw Shenzhen defender Geng Shaoshun continue a personally torrid afternoon when he gently nudged a close range free header at Sun, got booked and allowed Yao Hanlin to get the better of him on the left wing and cross for Jorda to slot home Wuhan’s third.
Shenzhen manager Lee Lim-saeng made two changes at half-time and his side looked better in the first 10 minutes of the second half. However, in the 57th minute, a neat pass from Jovial gave Yao Hanlin space on the left wing and he provided yet another pinpoint cross allowing Jorda to head in at the back post.
The goal caused Shenzhen heads to drop and from then on the game became little more than a procession. In the 63rd minute, a hopeful long ball should have been dealt with by Geng Shaoshun but Jorda got the better of him before shielding the ball from an on-rushing Niu Ben. With the Shenzhen keeper in no-man’s land, the former Guizhou Renhe striker launched a cheeky 30-yard lob to complete his hat-trick.
By this point, Zall manager Zheng Bin was already showing some mercy to the club he won the inaugural Super League with as a player by shifting to five at the back. After Jorda’s third, both he and Jovial were also withdrawn, but there was still time for a sixth as Yao Hanlin showed great determination to run at a defense already mentally in the changing room and bend a precise finish into the bottom corner.
The demolition is Zall’s third consecutive victory and Shenzhen’s third loss in a row. While the home side have instantly reaffirmed their status as promotion contenders, Shenzhen have flagged badly following a brief revival after Lee’s appointment a couple of months ago. If they don’t turn it around quickly, a relegation fight beckons.
Beijing Institute of Technology 2-3 Beijing BG
Beijing BG firmly restored their promotion hopes by coming from behind twice to overcome their university based city rivals. With a CFA Cup Beijing derby against the mighty Guo’an looming in July, it was inevitable that much of this game’s pre-match talk would be related to that. However, this result brings BG within three points of the promotion places and, in the long term, that is far more important.
Going into the game, BG were unbeaten in the last five contests between the sides but things started badly for them when Andres Marquez gave BIT a tenth minute lead. The Uruguayan showed a deft touch to bring down Han Guanghui’s free kick inside the penalty area and his cool finish was his seventh goal of the season.
It took until the 39th minute for BG to level thanks to Yan Xiangchuang. The former Guo’an midfielder was fortunate when Carmelo Valencia’s saved close range effort fell to him about 20 yards from goal and he demonstrated his gratitude with a clinical first time finish into the empty net.
But BG’s lead would only last until first half stoppage time when a piece of individual brilliance from Hu Ming restored BIT’s lead. The 24-year-old turned BG’s Han Xuan inside-out before rifling a finish into the top corner. The goal was Hu’s fifth of the season, bringing him level with Wang Yunlong and former BIT teammate Li Xiang as the divisions top Chinese scorer. But it proved to be in vain as BIT’s leaky defence once again let the side down.
Some neat inter-play between Valencia and Danko Lazovic allowed Yan to score his second ten minutes after the break and, in the 69th minute, Valencia was rewarded for an excellent all round display with a goal of his own. The Colombian bullied Jing Xuan off of a long ball and saw his effort role into the net despite BIT keeper Li Huayang managing to block it.
The latter stages of the game were comfortable for BG and BIT’s Julio Gutierrez was lucky not to see red for a late elbow on Yan Xiangchuang. It was a nasty act from the Uruguayan but he may have escaped censure thanks to earlier outlandish theatrics from Jin Hui and Lv Peng who had been involved in tackles with the South American. One hopes that such “boy who cried wolf: scenarios will discourage BG (and all Chinese teams’) players from indulging in such embarrassing play-acting in the future, but that may be overly optimistic.
Guizhou Zhicheng 1-2 Hunan Billows
A Li Xiang double was enough to give Hunan a first win in seven and drag them out of the bottom two. Chen Zijie provided the assist for Li’s11th minute opener but Wang Jun levelled the scores with a 27th minute free kick.
However, Li grabbed his fifth of the season twenty minutes from time and a fine performance from Billows’ keeper Dong Jianhong allowed the visitors to hold on for Zhang Xu’s maiden victory as manager.
Harbin Yiteng 1-1 Tianjin Songjiang
Over 18,000 fans witnessed their side drop points at home for the first time this season and extend their run of draws to seven in the last nine games. Rong Yu put the visitors in the front in the 29th minute, but Han Xu equalised seven minutes after the break when he reacted to Bu Xin’s saved free kick.
Harbin remain unbeaten and just two points away from the top, but their inability to win on the road spreading to their home turf will be a great cause for concern. This is particularly true as this result came against bottom side Songjiang, although it should be noted that the Tianjiners are now unbeaten in three since Goran Tomic took over as manager. Unfortunately, all three of those games have ended in draws and some victories will need to come soon if Songjiang are to escape from their plight.
Jiangxi Liansheng 1-1 Xinjiang
Jiangxi and Xinjiang shared the spoils in a result that does neither side any favours. After drawing blanks in his previous two outings, Cristian Danalache found the net in the 51st minute, only for his effort to be cancelled out in less than 5 minutes by Liansheng’s Demerson.
Hunan’s win in Guizhou is bad news for both these sides and Xinjiang’s results need to start picking up soon if they are to avoid getting sucked into a relegation battle. Finding a goal scorer other than Danalche, who has netted nine of their eleven goals this year, would be a good start.
Qingdao Hainiu 1-0 Hohhot Zhongyou
A 69th minute header from Dorde Rakic was enough to give Hainiu the three points needed to leapfrog their opponents into the top half of the table. The dismissal of Zhongyou captain Jonas Salley within a minute of the Serbian’s goal extinguished any hope the newly promoted side had of rescuing a point and sees them slip into the bottom half of the division for the first time since second game of the season.