The promotion race is once again wide open as Qingdao Jonoon slip up at home to Tianjin Songjiang and Beijing BG fall to Wuhan Zall. Hebei CFFC took advantage by putting six past Qingdao Hainiu but Harbin Yiteng couldn’t beat Guizhou Zhicheng. Yanbian Changbaishan increased their lead at the top despite being held by struggling Shenzhen FC as Hunan Billows, Beijing Institute of Technology and Jiangxi Liansheng all lose to deepen their woes at the bottom.
Hebei CFFC 6-1 Qingdao Hainiu
Hebei put a couple of recent poor performances behind them in emphatic fashion as they trounced Hainiu and returned to third in the table. After a slow start to his Hebei career, Edu demonstrated his worth with a hat-trick as Nenad Milijas, Zhu Haiwei and Ibba Laajab all made important contributions to the home side’s goal tally.
Despite the final outcome, things started badly for Hebei when Dorde Rakic gave Hainiu the lead after just three minutes. It was the Serbian’s first game back since the death of his friend Goran Gogic over three weeks ago and he paid tribute by revealing a t-shirt with his compatriot’s picture on it.
Unfortunately for Hainiu, Hebei were in no mood for sentiment and Edu had levelled things up within three minutes when he headed in a Milijas corner. Ten minute later, the Brazilian converted a penalty after Zhu Haiwei had been fouled by Xue Yanan and his hat-trick was complete within 34 minutes thanks to another assist from Milijas.
Any hopes of a second half fight back were immediately extinguished when Liu Xiaofeng put through his own net off of a Du Wenyang cross less than a minute after the break. In the 72nd minute Laajab increased the lead when he headed in Zhu Haiwei’s cross and Milijas completed the rout with a sublime free kick three minutes before the end.
The result did Hainiu’s second placed city rivals Jonoon no favours as it means that Hebei are now just one point behind them with a game in hand. However, that was of little concern to Hainiu manager Su Maozhen after the game as he seemed at a loss and said he may have taken the team as far as he can. When asked if he would consider resigning, Su said he would think about it if a suitable replacement were found.
Hainiu are now five without a win and their must be some concern that they will go on a similar slump to the one they went on last season when they failed to win any of their last thirteen games and lost their last nine. The difference last year was that they had already gathered enough points to secure their safety, but this year they are just six points above the relegation zone with eleven games remaining, meaning they will need to pick up at least two or three wins between now and the end of the season to guarantee their survival.
Wuhan Zall 1-0 Beijing BG
Cheng Jin made a fairy tale start to his time in Wuhan by scoring a spectacular 88th minute winner just ten minutes after coming on for his debut.
In a tight game with few clear cut chances, the match was won when the 20-year-old midfielder, on loan from Hangzhou Greentown, lobbed a 30-yard volley into the net. BG goalkeeper Dong Lei had punched a hopeful long free kick clear but it dropped straight to Cheng who didn’t wait for it to hit the ground before sending it back into the empty net with a perfectly weighted touch.
That the game even went ahead was somewhat of a marvel as Zall’s Xinhua Road Stadium had been under over a metre of water just 48 hours earlier thanks to a deluge of rain that had struck the area. Aerial shots of the stadium showed it more closely resembling a swimming pool, but the ground staff did a remarkable job of draining the water quickly enough to make the pitch playable.
The game had an auspicious start when BG captain Lu Jiang was carried off with a serious looking injury less than 10 minutes in. In the week that grizzled veteran Li Weifeng announced he was leaving Tianjin TEDA and possibly retiring, it was fitting that Lu should be returning to Wuhan. It was the fight between Lu and Li, then with Beijing Guo’an and Wuhan Guanggu, that led to Guanggu falling out with the CFA over its punishments and subsequently quitting the league.
Guo’an and Lu have, rightly or wrongly, been hated by Wuhan fans ever since, but the midfielder’s injury denied home fans the chance to mercilessly boo him throughout the game. Another injury which disappointed the home support was one to top scorer Brice Jovial who had to depart the field with a shoulder injury in the 36th minute.
Without Jovial, a Wuhan side that had been winless in seven looked to have had their best way of defeating an in form BG side taken away from them. However, some solid defending coupled with Cheng’s late heroics gave Wuhan manager Zheng Xiong his first victory in his second game in charge.
Wuhan remain eighth, but BG slip back to fourth. It was a disappointing result for the capital city side who had already seen Qingdao Jonoon lose and knew that victory in front of a decent smattering of away support would take them up to second.
Qingdao Jonoon 0-2 Tianjin Songjiang
Goals from Wan Cheng and Su Yuanjie gave Songjiang a surprise victory over Jonoon. Wan headed in a corner on the stroke of half-time and Su, a second half substitute, sealed the win in the 74th minute.
The victory helps pull Songjiang five points clear of the bottom two, while also cutting Jonoon’s lead over third placed Hebei CFFC to just one point. The Shandong side had been six games unbeaten going into this game, but now find themselves just three points ahead of fifth placed Harbin Yiteng.
Shenzhen FC 2-2 Yanbian Changbaishan
Shenzhen twice game from behind to achieve an improbable draw with league leader Yanbian Changbaishan in front over 15,000 fans.
Sun Jun put the visitors in front after just eight minute but Kim Young-hoo levelled things up with a penalty midway through the half after Yanbian captain Cui Min had committed a foul. Cui made amends in the 36th minute when he scored directly from a free kick but Andre Senghor rescued a point for the hosts with ten minutes remaining.
Senghor’s equaliser, his eighth of the season, may have caused jubilation among those in attendance but it will also have deflated those Yanbian fans streaming the game thanks to an historic first in Chinese football. As Shenzhen games are not broadcast locally, there was set to be no live feed of the game available until Yanbian themselves offered to stump up the ¥40,000 required to get the game broadcast.
Unfortunately, as the deal was done late, Yanbian TV’s schedule had already been etched in stone and so the game was only made available on mobile platforms. This is the first time a club in China has ever paid for broadcasting rights from its own pocket and, even though the game was sidelined to the internet, it demonstrates the huge appetite of Yanbian fans to support their team.
The draw may have been a set back, but Yanbian remain a comfortable eight points clear at the top. A minor worry will be the fact that they have conceded twice in back to back games for the first time in 2015 against less than stellar teams. But they remain unbeaten this season and will have to go through a slump much more serious than this to miss out on a place in the 2016 Super League.
Harbin Yiteng 0-0 Guizhou Zhicheng
Zhicheng put on another impressive away display as they battled to a draw in Harbin despite playing 65 minutes with ten men after Huang Zhun quickly accumulated two yellow cards. In a game blighted by heavy rain, Harbin were unable to find the breakthrough needed to send the 20,000 in attendance home happy.
With Yiteng’s Ricardo Steel making his 100th appearance for the club and Zhicheng’s Rodrigo returning to the stadium where he played his football last year, the stage seemed set for one of the attacking players to grab the headlines. It wasn’t to be, however, as Harbin played out an incredible twelfth draw of the season to remain three points adrift of the top two.
Hunan Billows 0-1 Dalian Aerbin
A 65th minute strike from Jin Qiang gave Aerbin their first win in six attempts. The midfielder struck after Hunan goalkeeper Deng Zihao, deputising for the suspended Deng Jianhong, parried Mathias Ranegie’s header into his path.
The victory means that, despite their dreadful recent run, Dalian remain a very manageable four points adrift of the top two. Hunan’s defeat marks a continuation of their terrible home form that has seen them pick up just six points from nine games in Changsha in 2015.
Xinjiang 3-1 Beijing Institute of Technology
Rafael’s first goal in a Xinjiang shirt was followed up by a Cristian Danalache brace as Xinjiang ran out comfortable winners in Urumqi. The Brazilian, playing his second game for Xinjiang, found the net after 15 minutes and Danalache doubled the lead from the penalty spot just before half-time after he himself had been fouled.
Wang Chao gave BIT hope of a fight back when he headed one back in the 78th minute but Danalache sealed the victory just three minutes later with his seventeenth goal of the season. The Romanian’s double means that he now sits by himself at the top of the League One scoring charts and that his side are now a comfortable eight points clear of the relegation zone.
The loss means that BIT have now picked up just five points in their last ten games as they continue to suffer the effects of their players’ now finished involvement in the China University League and World University Games. They remain one point behind Hunan Billows in the relegation places but have two games in hand. The question is whether they can recover from their extra-curricular excursions in time to make them count.
Hohhot Zhongyou 2-0 Jiangxi Liansheng
First half strikes from Dori and Guo Sheng gave Hohhot victory over a last placed Jiangxi side whose situation looks increasingly desperate. Dori stuck in the 20th minute and ten minutes later his saved effort allowed Guo Sheng to follow up and double the advantage.
Jiangxi’s frustrations boiled over late in the game when Xu Bo was shown a straight red for a foul on Li Shuai. Guo Sheng and Jiangxi’s Adi Roch were also both shown yellows for a stoppage time tussle.
An impressive 15,000 fans turned out to see Hohhot claim their third win in their last four home games as part of a run that makes promotion to the Super League no longer seem impossible. Hohhot remain in seventh but they are now just five point behind Qingdao Jonoon with eleven games remaining.
Back to back promotions may still be a long shot but, at the moment, that seems more likely than Jiangxi, who also have a five point deficit to overcome, surviving their first season in League One.