A crazy week of action in League One saw shocking occurrences both on the field and off it. A bottom of the table clash in Xinjiang will be remembered for a hyper-sensitive referee and a temperamental press officer. Hohhot Zhongyou and Qingdao Hainiu sprang huge surprises in Dalian and Beijing, while Hebei drew a blank at home. Yanbian just keep on winning and there were high scoring, if unhelpful, draws in Wuhan and Jiangxi.
Xinjiang 2-1 Tianjin Songjiang
Xinjiang won for the first time in seven attempts, but this game was marred by a farcical red card and a bizarre post-match press conference. Tong Xiaoxing opened the scoring with a fine, low 20-yard effort after just two minutes and Felipe Ferro put the game beyond Songjiang when he headed in a Mustapha Nurahmet corner in the 54th minute.
A goal from centre back Juan Bolanos ten minutes later gave Songjiang hope, but an attack without the suspended Mario Lucio and ineligible new signings Frank Nouble and Zhang Shuo was unable to muster an equaliser.
The result lifts Xinjiang four points clear of the relegation zone and sees Songjiang return to the bottom of the division, but this match will be remembered for a red card shown to Tianjin’s Li Xingcan in stoppage time. Xinjiang had just been awarded a free kick and as Li rushed back to defend it he accidentally bumped into referee Ai Kun. The winger attempted to apologise, but Ai clearly felt he had been deliberately upended and swiftly brandished a red card.
The nonsense didn’t stop there as Goran Tomic, who had just overseen his first loss as Songjiang manager, fielded questions about the refereeing in the post-match press conference. The Croatian was respectful but understandably dissatisfied and said his club would appeal the decision with the CFA.
A Tianjin based reporter then asked him if he felt the referee had added enough stoppage time, which prompted a confrontation with a Xinjiang press officer. The press officer took umbrage with the Tianjin journalists’ criticism of the referee and swiftly brought the conference to an end.
However, as he went to leave he made an effort to “square-up” to the journalist in scenes more suited to the school playground. It seems bad behaviour in Chinese football isn’t just reserved for the players and managers.
Wuhan Zall 2-2 Harbin Yiteng
Zall came back twice to guarantee a draw that is of greatest benefit to the sides directly above these in the table.
In the 14th minute, Li Xiaoting converted a cross from left back Xu Dong to put the visitors in the lead. Nine minutes later, Liu Yi gave away his second penalty in as many weeks when shoved Yao Hanlin in the area. Brice Jovial kept a cool head to convert from the spot, but the lead only lasted until the 34th minute when left back Li Jian latched on to a beautiful through ball from Li Xin to score Harbin’s second.
Rafa Jorda struck a post for the hosts following a goal line scramble just before half-time and the eqauliser came eleven minutes after the break when the big Spaniard crossed for Jovial to head in his second following a swift counterattack.
Yiteng made this into a very physical match-up, with tough tackling midfielder Adam Hughes leading the way. The Australian almost came to blows late in the game when Jovial took exception to one of his challenges, but he was a significant factor in the poor performances of Wuhan central midfielders Li Hang and Song Zhiwei. As well as criticising his team’s defending in recent matches, Wuhan manager Zheng Bin was quick to point out that his midfield needed to be tougher in games like this.
Whatever the reason, the point is bad news for both sides who couldn’t take advantage of three of the top five failing to win at home. However, the outlook is better for Harbin as they are about to undertake a run of six games at home. Conversely, Wuhan now face four straight on the road with hopes of a return to the Super League looking increasingly forlorn.
Beijing BG 2-3 Qingdao Hainiu
Some terrible defending gave Hainiu a comeback victory after an early flurry of goals had put BG in front.
It took just two minutes for Ma Xingyu to put Hainiu in front, but quick replies from Danko Lazovic and Carmelo Valenica meant BG were 2-1 up in the first nine minutes. However, three minutes after the break, Dorde Rakic levelled things up and Ma Long netted a 71st minute winner.
It’s a surprising win for Hainiu who came into the game as the league’s lowest scorers. And, with Hebei CFFC and Dalian Aerbin both dropping points at home, its a huge opportunity missed for BG to throw themselves right back into the promotion fight.
Dalian Aerbin 0-1 Hohhot Zhongyou
A 43rd minute long range strike from Dori was enough for Hohhot to shock Dalian and hand them their first home loss of the season. Aerbin’s attack suffered in the absence of suspended centre forward Mathias Ranegie. Bruno Meneghel was moved from the left wing to the middle to replace the big Swede, but he was ineffective in the role.
In the latter part of the game, Dalian manager Mikael Stahre even resorted to throwing centre back Niklas Backman up front, but it proved hopeless as his side failed to find the net at home for the first time this season. Considering that last season these clubs were two divisions apart, this win is a huge achievement for Hohhot who remain ninth.
Hunan Billows 0-2 Yanbian Changbaishan
Second half goals from Jailton Paraiba and Ha Tae-goon gave Yanbian a fourth straight win and helped them pull three points clear at the top of the table. Jailton Paraiba struck in the 52nd minute and Ha grabbed his twelfth of the season seven minutes later.
Despite the return of Luis Carlos Cabezas and Li Xiang to the Hunan attack, Yanbian were able to keep a fourth straight clean sheet. This was thanks in part to centre back Zhao Ming who was returning to the city where he played for three years with Changsha Ginde.
The aftermath of the game was marred by the news that four Yanbian supporters suffered minor injuries after being attacked by disgruntled home fans, but this shouldn’t take the gloss off of another impressive win. In the post-match press conference, Yanbian manager Park Ta-hae said his team would only start talking about promotion to the Super League after 24 games have been played. If they keep going at this rate, they may well have already guaranteed a spot in the top flight by then.
Jiangxi Liansheng 3-3 Shenzhen FC
A 96th minute equaliser from Adi Rocha saved Jiangxi from defeat in a thrilling game in Nanchang.
The visitors took the lead in the 12th minute thanks to defender Geng Xiaoshun, but Jaja levelled things up just three minutes later. In the 26th minute, Zhang Zhichao gave the hosts the advantage, but the scores were once again tied thanks to Cai Jingyuan’s long range effort just before the hour mark. In the 65th minute, Babacar Gueye’s sixth of the season looked to have given Shenzhen a valuable three points until Adi Rocha’s late heroics.
With just two points separating the struggling sides, there was a lot at stake in this game and Shenzhen used questionable time-wasting tactics to protect their lead. Following Adi Rocha’s late strike, tensions boiled over and the two sides refused to shake hands at the end following a melee.
While not to be condoned in any way, the frustrations of the Shenzhen players are at least understandable considering that they had thrown away a chance to claim a first win in six. Coming into the game, Jiangxi will have felt this is a contest they should have won, but the late equaliser is enough to pull them off the bottom of the table, even though they remain in the relegation zone.
Hebei CFFC 0-0 Guizhou Zhicheng
Zhicheng lived up to their recent unpredictability by keeping promotion-chasing Hebei scoreless for the first time since the opening week of the season. Following a huge win away to Qingdao Jonoon and a huge loss at home to Jiangxi Liansheng, trying to predict Zhicheng’s results has become increasingly fraught.
However, few could have seen the league’s second most generous defence keeping a clean sheet against it’s most potent attack. This is certainly two points dropped for Hebei who now only remain in second above Jonoon by virtue of their head-to-head record.
Qingdao Jonoon 3-1 Beijing Institute of Technology
Jonoon comfortably dispatched Beijing Institute of Technology to bring themselves level on points with second place Hebei CFFC.
It took just six minutes for Deivdy Reiss to open the scoring and Wang Jun doubled the deficit from the penalty spot following a 26th minute foul on Zhu Jianrong. BIT scored a penalty of their own ten minutes later with Li Xiangbin doing the honours. But the result was sealed 13 minutes from time when Ismael Beko Fofana followed up a saved effort from Deivdy Reiss
The loss means BIT are now seven without a win, although many of their players will be free to concentrate on League One having just won the 2014-15 China University Football League. BIT’s unique status as a university with a professional football team meant several players, including captain Han Guanghui who was nominated CUFL’s player of the season, have been fighting on two fronts.
That situation is now over until the next academic year begins and it may have a positive effect on BIT’s form.