After a busy few weeks off the field in League One, the focus returned to on field matters in round 18 as Yanbian Changbaishan and Beijing BG both pulled off exciting, high scoring victories. Dalian Aerbin and Wuhan Zall continued their recent struggles by cancelling each other out and Qingdao Jonoon dropped points in Hohhot. At the other end of the table, Hunan Billows and Shenzhen FC both scored huge wins over near rivals Tianjin Songjiang and Beijing Institute of Technology, respectively, and a goalless draw for Jiangxi Liansheng sees them cut further adrift.
Xinjiang 2-3 Beijing BG
A last minute header from Taiwanese substitute Chen Hao-wei cancelled out a double comeback from Xinjiang and handed them their first home loss of the season.
In the 24th minute, Yan Xiangchuang gave the visitors the lead when he headed in his sixth of the season. The goal means Yan is one of only two Chinese players to have managed six strikes this year, but BG were pegged back by the far more prolific Cristian Danalache five minutes before the break. An assist from Shewket Yalqun helped the Romanian net his fourteenth of the season, but the lead only lasted until the 51st minute when Carmelo Valencia restored BG’s advantage.
With ten minutes to go, Danalache once again proved his worth when he tied Yanbian Changbaishan’s Ha Tae-goon as the League One top scorer and looked to have preserved Xinjiang’s unbeaten home record. However, Chen’s late winner denied Xinjiang a share of the spoils and also pulls BG to within just two points of second place Qingdao Jonoon.
It’s a disappointing result for Xinjiang, who handed a debut to new Brazilian striker Rafael, but they remain a respectable tenth and have two more games in Urumqi before once again hitting the road.
Yanbian Changbaishan 4-2 Guizhou Zhicheng
A hat-trick from Steve helped Yanbian overcome Zhicheng and stretch their lead at the top to seven points. The hosts were heavy favourites in front of over 27,000 expectant fans but it took just six minutes for Yves Ekwalla Herman to become the first opposition player to score against Yanbian in seven games.
However, Yanbian’s excellent run isn’t only based on defense and Steve equalised in the 19th minute before adding a second four minutes before the break. The 20-year-old Gambian completed his hat-trick just after the hour mark when he headed in a Jailton Paraiba cross.
The drama wasn’t over, though, as Herman gave Zhicheng a lifeline in the 77th minute. A free kick from Wang Fan, who was making his Zhicheng debut as a second half substitute, was headed in by the Cameroonian, only for Ha Tae-goon to seal the win a minute before the end of regulation with his fifteenth strike of the season.
This victory deviated from recent Yanbian triumphs in that they had to outscore their opposition, but the league leaders proved that they have the ability to do that. Meanwhile, Zhicheng can take solace from the fact that they became the first visitors to score twice in the Korean Autonomous Prefecture this season, and have again shown that they will probably be too good to go down this year.
Dalian Aerbin 0-0 Wuhan Zall
Aerbin ended their four game losing run in the meekest way possible by toiling to a scoreless draw with a Wuhan team that now hasn’t won in seven. A crowd of over 17,000, the biggest seen in Dalian for quite some time, were left disappointed by the result and infuriated by what they saw as questionable refereeing that denied them at least two penalties (see video).
Indeed, Aerbin’s new ownership have already lodged an official complaint to the CFA over the perceived injustices, although what can really be achieved from that is not clear. The result means Dalian now sit seven points behind the promotion places and demonstrates how increased investment doesn’t guarantee immediate success.
Of the two teams, Wuhan will be the happier with the result in what was new manager Zheng Xiong’s first game in charge. Zheng made several changes, the most controversial of which was to leave ten-goal top scorer Brice Jovial on the bench. The fact that Jovial was introduced at half-time suggests this decision may have backfired.
Young right-back Yue Xin was also given his debut and an immediate chance to return to Dalian. The 19-year-old left the northeast coast for Hangzhou Greentown just a few weeks ago, but the CSL side loaned him to Zall for the remainder of the season.
After the game, Zheng said that he was satisfied with this result and Zall finally return to Hubei next week after a month on the road. If they are to salvage anything from this season and avoid getting sucked into a relegation fight, they will have to start winning very soon.
Tianjing Songjiang 1-2 Hunan Billows
Yang Ke and Luis Cabezas were the heroes as Hunan upset the form book to claim a vital win in Tianjin. Cabezas assisted Yang’s 38th minute goal and Yang returned the favour in the 49th minute when he was tripped in the penalty area by Liu Qing. This allowed Cabezas to score from the spot – his third goal in as many games after failing to score throughout the first half of the season.
In the 63rd minute, Mario Lucio pulled one back with a penalty of his own, but this proved to be little more than a consolation as Hunan held on for the win.
It was Goran Tomic’s first home defeat as Songjiang manager and brings home the reality that, in spite of all the bluster from new owners Quanjian Natural Medicine about winning the AFC Champions’ League and playing in the FIFA Club World Cup in the near future, the club still has a lot of work to do to secure their League One status.
Songjiang now sit just three points above second bottom Beijing Institute of Technology and two above Hunan and Shenzhen FC. Given that BIT have two games in hand and that Songjiang’s run of four straight home games has come to an end, Quanjian could find themselves the less than proud owners of a League Two side if they don’t focus on the here and now.
Beijing Institute of Technology 1-2 Shenzhen FC
Shenzhen took advantage of the gruelling schedule faced by most of BIT’s players to halt a run of nine games without a win. With most of their first team players away at the World University Games, BIT were in League One action for the first time in three weeks, but many of their starting line-up were also taking part in their seventh match during that period.
With new Uruguayan striker Maureen Franco debuting, BIT didn’t look too badly effected when Hu Ming gave them the lead after 16 minutes. It was Hu’s sixth goal of the season and brought him level with Yan Xiangchuang as League One’s top Chinese scorer.
One minute before the break, Andre Senghor equalised when he headed in a Zhou Shengyuan cross and in the 54th minute the Senegalese striker grabbed his second by nodding in the rebound from compatriot Babacar Gueye’s saved effort. The visitors win was temporarily overshadowed when defender Du Longquan fell unconscious and had to be taken from the field in an ambulance near the end of the game. But Du is said to have recovered and Shenzhen can now look at a league table that has them outside of the relegation zone with BIT taking their place.
After the game, BIT manager Yuan Wei was quick, and probably right, to apportion blame to BIT’s difficult recent schedule, but he must make sure they quickly recover from it. The “Student Army” is still only one point behind Shenzhen and Hunan Billows with two games in hand, but a home defeat to the team in the league’s worst form marks an inauspicious return to League One action.
Hohhot Zhongyou 1-1 Qingdao Jonoon
A 64th minute header from Zhongyou’s Li Shuai cancelled out Ismael Beko Fofana’s goal, struck just before half-time, to ensure these sides shared the points. The result means that Jonoon’s advantage over third-placed Beijing BG, who won in Hohhot three weeks ago, has slipped to just two points.
The Shandong side’s new Brazilian signing Rogerinho was not in the squad and Deivy Reiss appeared as a second-half substitute. The point was enough to keep the newly promoted Hohhot in seventh place, just one point behind 2014 Super League side Dalian Aerbin.
Qingdao Hainiu 0-0 Jiangxi Liansheng
Jiangxi were able to hold Hainiu in what wouldn’t have been a bad result had Hunan Billows and Shenzhen FC not won. Leo Itaperuna made his debut for he visitors, whose starting line-up confirmed that it is Jaja who will be making way for the new arrival.
Hainiu were still without Dorde Rakic, who is accompanying the body of Goran Gogic back to Serbia, but Julio Gutierrez made his full debut and Korean winger Kim Seung-yong returned as a substitute after a two game absence.
The result keeps Hainiu in ninth but means that Jiangxi are now five points adrift of safety and looking increasingly likely to make an instant return to League Two.
Harbin Yiteng vs Hebei CFFC – Postponed until Tuesday July 21st
This game has been postponed until Tuesday from its originally scheduled Saturday kick-off because of a concert scheduled to be held in the Harbin ICE Centre Stadium the same day. Despite Yiteng consistently attracting over 20,000 fans this season, Taiwanese pop singer A-Mei has been deemed more important than Yiteng and once again shows that football in China is not treated as a top priority.
We’ll bring you a report on this game in the round 19 preview.