Yanbian Changbaishan put six past Xinjiang as they continue to streak towards the championship, but the race for second and the promotion that comes with it remains tight as six of the top seven clubs win. The exception was Qingdao Jonoon who were humiliated at home by Beijing BG as Harbin Yiteng, Hebei CFFC, Dalian Aerbin and Hohhot Zhongyou all won to keep pace with the capital city side. The bottom three all lost, but each club is undergoing a differing degree of change with Hunan Billows getting a new head coach, Beijing Institute of Technology welcoming back their top scorer after a long absence and Jiangxi Liansheng moving 120 kilometres up the road for the promise of bigger crowds and improved fire safety.
Qingdao Jonoon 0-3 Beijing BG
A comprehensive win over ten-man Jonoon kept BG in second, one point ahead of the chasing pack. It also condemned the hosts to a run of three consecutive losses during which they’ve failed to score, conceded seven and slipped from second place down to seventh.
Carmelo Valencia put BG ahead in the 18th minute, but the game swung decisively in their favour four minutes after the half time interval when Jonoon’s Sha Yibo fouled Danko Lazovic in the penalty area. The defender, making just his second league appearance of the season, was given his marching orders and Lazovic picked himself up to give BG an unassailable lead from the spot.
Valencia added another four minutes from time, but the result was already academic by then as BG continue a run that has seen them win five out of their last six matches. For Jonoon, this is the fourth game that they’ve lost at home this season but, remarkably, that quartet of matches has seen them score just two goals while conceding fourteen to their visitors.
Yanbian Changbaishan 6-1 Xinjiang
Steve’s second hat-trick in less than a month helped Yanbian claim the biggest win of their undefeated season while retaining a ten point lead at the top of the table. The huge win was certainly aided by the 35th minute sending off of Xinjiang’s Zhou Heng, but Yanbian were already 2-0 up by then thanks to a fourth minute Ha Tae-goon penalty and a 21st minute strike from Jailton Paraiba.
Zhou’s red was met with vigorous protests from Xinjiang, with the game delayed for almost five minutes and veteran Brazilian centre back Vicente possibly facing action from the CFA for trying to snatch the referee’s card. In the end, though, it meant little as Yanbian ran riot in the second half to further emphasise just how good they’ve been this season.
Steve scored his first in the 55th minute before adding a second just over a quarter of an hour later. In the 79th minute, Ha scored his eighteenth of the season to pull within one goal of Xinjiang’s Cristian Danalache at the top of the League One scoring charts, but that situation lasted just three minutes as the Romanian netted a consolation for the visitors to extend his lead to two.
But Steve was not to be overshadowed and he completed his hat-trick within a minute of Danalache’s strike to take his tally up to thirteen for the season. Indeed, Yanbian’s foreign trio, affectionately known as Oreo, have now bagged 37 goals between them this season which is more than any team in League One has managed to accumulate collectively.
Coming into this game, Xinjiang had won five of their last seven and there was a lot of pre-match talk about how Cristian Danalache would pose a real threat with Yanbian centre back Zhao Ming suspended. As it turned out, the striker managed to score for the seventh game in a row, but it counted for nothing as Yanbian’s attack overwhelmed their opponents.
In mitigation, Xinjiang’s strong recent run was based on playing a consecutive series of home games and the only time they’ve won away from Urumqi this season was all the way back in round 2. They were also scuppered by travel issues following the cancellation of flights on the road less travelled between Urumqi and Yanji.
However, with all that being said, this result is yet another highlight in what has been an incredible season for Yanbian. Twenty-one games unbeaten, a ten point lead at the top of the table and regular home attendances hovering around 29,000 all point to a team that looks unstoppable on its march to the Super League.
Guizhou Zhicheng 1-2 Hohhot Zhongyou
A deflected stoppage time free kick from Dori gave Hohhot another important win on a rain sodden pitch in Guiyang. William Paulista’s 55th minute header had given the visitors the lead and things got worse for Zhicheng in the 71st minute when Ilhamjan Iminjan was dismissed for a second booking.
It is the second time this season that the winger has accumulated two yellow cards in one match this season, but it looked as though it wouldn’t prove costly when Yves Ekwalla Herman levelled from the penalty spot ten minutes before the end. It was the Cameroonian’s thirteenth goal of the season, but it ultimately proved futile as Dori’s late strike ensured all three points went up to Inner Mongolia.
The win means that Hohhot have now done the League One double over the the team they defeated via a penalty shoot-out in the 2014 League Two play-off final. That win, after both legs had ended in draws, came when Zhongyou were still based in Taiyuan and ensured their promotion to League One. Zhicheng, meanwhile, had to wait for Shenyang Zhongze to fold less than three weeks before the start of the season in order to claim their spot in the second tier.
Since then, Zhicheng have exceeded expectations by staying above the relegation zone, but Hohhot have outdone them as they remain just three points adrift of the promotion places with nine games to go. The game also meant a happy return to Guiyang for Zhongyou centre back Jonas Salley who played in two AFC Champions’ League campaigns and won the 2013 CFA Cup with Zhicheng’s city rivals Guizhou Renhe.
Jiangxi Liansheng 0-2 Dalian Aerbin
First half goals from Bruno Meneghel and Mathias Raneige meant that Jiangxi’s first League One game in the 31,000 seat Jiujiang Stadium ended in a defeat that keeps them bottom of the league. 15 minutes in, Meneghel struck his thirteenth goal of the season directly from a free kick and Ranegie added a second from the penalty spot ten minutes before half-time.
The result moves Dalian up to fourth and keeps them within two points of second placed Beijing BG as part of a run that has seen them win their last three without conceding a goal. For Jiangxi, the day was bittersweet as the result overshadowed what looks to have been a successful 120 kilometre move from Nanchang to Jiujiang.
The shift, which will last until at least the end of the season, was apparently made because Nanchang’s 50,000 seat Jiangxi Olympic Sport Centre is being renovated to comply with a fire safety code, but the benefits of Liansheng switching locations are obvious when one looks at this week’s attendance. In spite of rain, over 13,000 turned out to watch this game which is an increase of over 700% on the 1,800 or so that the club were averaging for matches in Nanchang.
Fire safety or not, the fact that Liansheng attracted over 23,000 fans in each of the two CFA Cup games they played in Jiujiang earlier in the season may have given them an added incentive to switch locations. Every little helps when you’re in a relegation dogfight, and playing out the remainder of their home games in a stadium that’s almost half full may be more beneficial to the players than taking the field at an arena in which less than 5% of seat are occupied.
Hebei CFFC 2-0 Tianjin Songjiang
First half goals from Du Wei and Luo Senwen gave Hebei a home win over Songjiang and kept them within touching distance of the top two. Du headed in a Nenad Milijas corner on the half hour mark and Luo struck with what he is fast making into a trademark long range strike five minutes later.
The result has done little to change either team’s status, though, as Hebei remain two points behind second place Beijing BG with a game in hand, and Songjiang are still five points clear of the relegation zone.
Beijing Institute of Technology 1-3 Harbin Yiteng
Yiteng took to the road for the first time in seven weeks, but scored their first win outside of Harbin since March to maintain third spot. In the 17th minute, Ricardo headed in a Bu Xin cross to put the visitors in the lead and Bu doubled the advantage with a penalty six minutes before the break.
The left winger had drawn the foul himself and became League One’s joint leading scorer with six goals, although four of them have come from the spot. Li Xiaoting added a third in the 53rd minute, before Andres Marquez made the score a little more respectable when he pulled one back in stoppage time.
It was the Uruguayan’s first game in over two months thanks to a six game ban for an obscene gesture towards a referee that had been protracted by BIT’s two week absence from League One competition because of their players’ involvement in the World University Games. With one win in twelve and a defence that is conceding more than two goals a game on average, BIT will be hoping the return of their nine-goal top scorer can revitalise their attack and help them fire their way out of the relegation zone.
Hunan Billows 1-2 Wuhan Zall
A 73rd minute headed winner from debuting 20-year-old centre back Han Xuan gave Wuhan just their second away win of the season and means they have now done the double over their local rivals. It also meant that new Hunan head coach Zikica Tasevski started off his reign with a defeat.
The Macedonian arrived at the club at the beginning of the season as assistant to Aleksander Stankov, but retained the roll when the former Dalian Aerbin boss was let go just seven games into the campaign. Since then, he has been working under temporary manager Zhang Xu who has decided to return to his general manager roll and has promoted Tasevski to replace him.
Things didn’t start well for the new 37-year-old boss when Wuhan’s Cheng Jin pounced on the rebound of Ke Zhao’s saved shot to give his side a 34th minute lead. The 20-year-old was making his first start since arriving on loan from Hangzhou Greentown in the summer and now has two goals in three appearances after scoring a stunning winner as a substitute against Beijing BG two weeks ago.
Li Xiang headed in an equaliser three minutes after the break to make himself League One’s joint top Chinese scorer with six goals, but Han’s header proved decisive. Li, who moved from Beijing Institute of Technology in the winter, is now level with his old teammate Hu Ming, Beijing BG’s Yan Xiangchuang and Harbin Yiteng’s Bu Xin in what has been a pretty paltry year for Chinese attackers. The 24-year-old himself managed a fifteen goal haul last season and that was only enough to see him place second in the Chinese scoring charts behind Wang Dong who netted sixteen for champions Chongqing Lifan.
Tasevski’s only has head coaching experience in the Macedonian First League and he has a tough task ahead of him guiding Hunan to safety. The Changsha side sit one point and one place above Beijing Institute of Technology who are in the relegation zone but also have two games in hand. Crucially, struggling teams often rely on their home form to survive, but this result contributes to Hunan’s abysmal record of one win and six goals scored in ten games in Changsha this season.
Shenzhen FC 1-1 Qingdao Hainiu
A 5th minute penalty from Hainiu’s Dorde Rakic was cancelled out by Andre Senghor’s 21st minute header as these sides shared the points in Shenzhen. With the bottom three all losing, the draw pulls each side one point closer to safety, but this is a game Shenzhen will feel like they should have won in front of over 11,000 fans.
Their captain Babacar Gueye was back from suspension, but missed several second half chances in a demonstration of his continuing struggle to find the net in 2015. Ultimately, though, the result shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering that these sides have now drawn all four of the games they’ve ever played against each other.