League One Round 20 Wrap: Yanbian Pull Further Ahead, as Hohhot Stun Hebei to Start Six-Way Race for Second
With the Super League on hiatus thanks to the East Asian Cup and the national team being easily dispatched by South Korea on Sunday, the only place to find any excitement in Chinese football this weekend was League One, and the teams didn’t disappoint. Hohhot Zhongyou put four past ten-man Hebei CFFC, some late goals gave Dalian Aerbin victory over Qingdao Jonoon and Beijing BG and Harbin Yiteng returned to winning ways. With Yanbian Changbaishan giving a masterclass in their destruction of Beijing Institute of Technology, it seems like the real battle is now for runner-up where just three points separate second from seventh. Throw in a last minute winner for bottom club Jiangxi Liansheng, and you’ve got an intriguing weekend of second tier action.
Hohhot Zhongyou 4-1 Hebei CFFC
Hohhot took advantage of a ten man Hebei to send a message to the league that their promotion chase should be taken seriously. After taking ten points from their last four games, things started badly for Zhongyou when Luo Senwen gave Hebei the lead in the 14th minute.
Any fears that the hosts were going succumb to a similar beating to the one Hebei handed Qingdao Hainiu last weekend were quickly extinguished, though, as Lin Kun found an equliser just two minutes after Luo’s strike. The game really turned when Hebei midfielder Jia Xiaochen was shown a second yellow card in the 51st minute and, within three minutes, Zhonyou captain Jonas Salley had put his side in the lead.
Dori added another in the 76th minute, before Zhang Tianxiang completed the rout six minutes from the end. Although they remain in seventh, Hohhot are now just three points behind second placed Beijing BG, as their impressive first season in the second tier of Chinese football continues.
For Hebei, the result is a terrible one given the huge discrepancies in the budgets of these two sides and demonstrates that last week’s 6-1 win over Qingdao Hainiu was somewhat of a false dawn.
Of course, Radomir Antic’s men remain just two points behind Beijing BG with a game in hand against the struggling Beijing Institute of Technology, so they shouldn’t be written off just yet. But with just four points and two three goal defeats in the four games they’ve played since the marquee signing of Edu, it’s clear that spending big doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.
Yanbian Changbaishan 4-0 Beijing Institute of Technology
Yanbain breezed to victory over BIT to extend their lead at the top of the table to ten points. The first goal came in the 28th minute when Ha Tae-goon netted his sixteenth of the season and the five foot five inch Jailton Paraiba headed in a second three minutes before half-time.
Yanbian’s third came courtesy of a deflected effort from right-back Jiang Hongquan, who celebrated his first ever senior goal by shoving the ball up his shirt in homage to his pregnant wife. Nine minutes later, with the game long over as a contest, Yanbian produced a remarkable 34 pass move which culminated when Jailton Paraiba assisted Steve’s tenth goal of the season (see video).
Of course, the goal came when BIT were already resigned to defeat, but it was still a delightful ninety seconds of football which sent the 29,000 in attendance into raptures. From their current position, it would take quite a collapse for Yanbian to not get promoted to the Super League and they are looking like increasingly worthy editions to the top tier.
For BIT, things look more and more desperate and they have now lost three in a row since the bulk of their squad returned from the World University Games. Jiangxi Liansheng’s victory means that the league’s leakiest defence is now just one point off the bottom of the table, although they do still have two games in hand over their near rivals.
Dalian Aerbin 2-0 Qingdao Jonoon
Late goals from youngsters Wang Jinxian and Cui Ming’an gave Dalian a precious victory which pulls them to within just two points of the promotion places. For over 76 minutes it looked like Jonoon had achieved another tough away draw against one of their promotion rivals, but that was until 19-year-old Wang Jinxian pounced on a lose ball in the penalty area to put Aerbin ahead.
20-year-old second half substitute Cui Ming’an added another in stoppage time to send the large crowd – apparently numbering around 22,000 – home happy. After a run of four defeats in a row, Aerbin have now picked up seven points from their last three games without conceding a goal to send their hat back into the promotion ring.
Conversely, Jonoon have followed up a run of six straight unbeaten by losing their last two games 2-0 and slipping from second into fourth. They do remain just one point behind second place Beijing BG, though, and, with summer signing Rogerinho finally making his debut this week, will still be hoping they can push their way over the line.
Beijing BG 2-0 Hunan Billows
Beijing BG climbed into second place as they beat a Hunan Billows side which remain a perilous one point clear of the relegation zone. BG looked to have made the perfect start just a few minutes in when they won a penalty, but Hunan goalkeeper Dong Jianhong made his second penalty save of the season to deny Danko Lazovic.
The Serbian got his redemption in the 54th minute, however, when he put BG into the lead and right-back Wang Changqing, a summer arrival from Shanghai Shenhua, put the exclamation point on the win with a long range effort a minute from the end. BG were without Lu Jiang, who was injured in Wuhan last week, but they gave a debut to Montenegrin centre back Nikola Vujadinovic who arrived from Spanish Second Division club Osasuna a couple of weeks ago.
Tianjin Songjiang 0-1 Jiangxi Liansheng
A stoppage time winner from Adi Rocha gave Jiangxi a surprise win in Tianjin and a lifeline in their struggle for survival. After more than ninety goalless minutes, Adi’s strike, his twelfth in all competitions this season, came from a corner and means that Jiangxi are just two points from safety despite being winless in their previous six.
It’s worth noting that Jiangxi have now won three games in 2015 and two of those have been against Songjiang who remain five points above the relegation zone in twelfth.
Harbin Yiteng 2-1 Shenzhen FC
Harbin climbed to third in the table after beating Shenzhen in front of over 20,000 fans. A Ren Peng foul allowed Bu Xin to give Yiteng the lead from the penalty spot four minutes before half-time, and Li Xin doubled the lead in the 54th minute.
Shenzhen were without suspended captain Babacar Gueye, but the two-time League One golden boot winner has been outscored by his Senegalese compatriot Andre Senghor this year and the winter arrival added his ninth of the season on the hour mark. It wasn’t enough, though, and Shenzhen remain just two points clear of the relegation zone.
Xinjiang 2-1 Wuhan Zall
Cristian Danalache scored twice for the fourth game in a row to lead Xinjiang into the top half of the table at Wuhan’s expense. The Romanian’s first came from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute after Wuhan substitute Zhang Jian handled in the penalty area. The 33-year-old added a second two minutes later.
The 2012 Super League golden boot winner is now three clear at the top of the League One scoring charts with nineteen goals and has twenty-one in all competitions this year. Including the CFA Cup, he has scored ten in his last six games and has managed more goals League One goals by himself in 2015 than either Hunan Billows or Qingdao Hainiu.
Wuhan were missing their less prolific top scorer Brice Jovial, who was out with a shoulder injury, and only managed to find the net in the 89th minute when Zhang Jian made amends for his earlier handball by crossing for Rafa Jorda to head in a consolation. This was Zheng Xiong’s first defeat since taking charge of Wuhan three weeks ago and it all but rules them out of the promotion race.
Guizhou Zhicheng 1-1 Qingdao Hainiu
Hainiu earned an away point in their first ever game without Su Maozhen as manager. Su resigned last week and was replaced by assistant Sun Xingbo who had the difficult task of rallying the players following their 6-1 hammering in Hebei.
Two minutes after half-time, Yves Ekwalla Herman put Zhicheng 1-0 up against the team he played for last season, thanks to an assist from summer signing Wang Fan. The Cameroonian’s twelfth strike of the year was cancelled out just five minutes later, though, when Wang Xuanhong equalised.
Although they were missing attacking players Rodrigo and Iminjan Ilhamjan through injury, Zhicheng will be disappointed not to have claimed the three points that would have carried them above their opponents and into the top ten.
Author: Jamie McIlroy
Based in China for five years, Jamie has been exploring tiny little third tier Hubei cities without football teams or decent internet connections, but is now a regular at China League One side Wuhan Zall.
A keen football afficionado, he regularly takes in the Chinese Super League, enjoying matches in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Nanjing.
Jamie is also a keen observer of the fortunes of the Chinese National side.