League One Round 22 Wrap: Harbin Get Big Win Over Yanbian and Hebei’s Antic Leaves Job Following Loss to Dalian
The big result in round 22 was undoubtedly Harbin’s 3-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Yanbian Changbaishan. Elsewhere, a late goal for Dalian Aerbin was enough to see off Hebei CFFC in what turned out to be Radomir Antic’s last game in charge. Former Guangzhou Evergrande assistant Li Tie will take the reigns in Hebei and has the task of overtaking Harbin, Dalian, Beijing BG and Hohhot Zhongyou who all won this week. There was a controversial game in Wuhan between two recent Super League sides and Hunan Billows claimed a big win to ease them closer to safety.
Harbin Yiteng 3-0 Yanbian Changbaishan
Two goals and an assist from Juan Nunez gave Harbin a stunning victory over the previously unbeaten Yanbian. The Colombian, who was making his first start for the club, took just five minutes to find the net when he headed in a Bu Xin free kick and he added a second twenty minutes later. With seven minutes to go, Nunez then provided an assist for second half substitute Li Jiahe to put the icing on a very impressive win.
As well as being Yanbian’s first defeat of the season, it also marked the first time they have conceded three goals and is only the second time they have failed to score in 2015. Yanbian’s failure to score can, at least in part, be put down to the absence of eighteen goal striker Ha Tae-goon who was unable to play because of illness.
However, the conceding of three goals can largely be attributed to Nunez, who had previously been struggling for match fitness after his summer arrival from now defunct Mexican second division club Estudiantes de Altamira. The 29-year-old actually scored on his debut as a substitute against Hebei in round 18, but will have certainly impressed the 30,000+ in attendance with this performance.
The loss will no doubt be a blow to Yanbian, but there is no need to panic as they remain seven points ahead of second place Beijing BG. Meanwhile, Harbin remain one point behind BG, but have proved themselves to be serious promotion contenders with this victory.
Dalian Aerbin 1-0 Hebei CFFC
A very late header from Mathias Ranegie proved the difference as Dalian leapfrogged Hebei into fourth place in what turned out to Radomir Antic’s last game in charge of the visitors. In a tight game, Hebei’s Edu hit the bar midway through the second half with a 40 yard lob, but Ranegie gave his side all three points when his header met Cui Ming’an’s corner in the 88th minute.
This is Dalian’s fourth win in a row and fifth consecutive clean sheet, while defeat means Hebei have sank down to what the club’s wealthy owners may feel is an unacceptable sixth. Despite little indication post-match, it was announced earlier today that Antic would be leaving his post. The Serbian – who has managed Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, as well as guiding Shandong Luneng to second in the 2013 Super League – is departing the club less than seven months into a three year contract.
Details of the reasons behind Antic’s exit are not immediately clear, but it has already been announced that he will be replaced by assistant manager Li Tie. Li, who is also assistant to China national team manager Alain Perrin, has only been with the club for just over a month after leaving Guangzhou Evergrande in July.
As a player, the 38-year-old won 92 caps for China and had a spell with Premier League club Everton. After retiring in 2011, Li moved into coaching and spent three title winning seasons as assistant manager at Evergrande before moving to Hebei. This is Li’s first head coaching job and it is unclear at this stage whether he will maintain his position in the national team set-up.
Beijing BG 2-1 Jiangxi Liansheng
A brace from Danko Lazovic helped BG come from behind against 10-man Jiangxi to maintain their narrow grip on second place. Leo Itaperuna had given Jiangxi a 20th minute lead when he netted his first goal for the club, but a Lazovic penalty levelled things up on the stroke of half time.
The Serbian had drawn the foul himself and somewhere in the melee Jiangxi’s Brazilian centre back Demerson was shown a second yellow card. Within two minutes of the restart Lazovic had scored again and, with a CFA Cup semi-final against Guizhou Renhe looming in midweek, BG were happy to use their man advantage to close out the game.
It is yet another narrow loss for Jiangxi but all defeats, regardless of their manner, mean you get zero points and Sun Xinbo’s men remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
Hohhot Zhongyou 2-1 Shenzhen FC
Hohhot grabbed a late winner for the second game in a row as a William Paulista brace helped them continue their climb up the table. The Brazilian first struck in the 63rd minute, but his effort was cancelled out by Kim Young-hoo who equalised just four minutes from time.
Hohhot were not to be denied, though, and William Paulista scored again with just two minutes remaining to ensure the Inner Mongolians won a fourth on the bounce. The result moves the newly promoted side up to fifth, while Shenzhen slip to fourteenth thanks to Hunan Billows’ win. The southeastern side now sit just two points ahead of Beijing Institute of Technology who still have two games in hand.
Wuhan Zall 1-1 Qingdao Jonoon
An 88th minute penalty from Wang Jun rescued a point for Jonoon after Brice Jovial had put Wuhan ahead just five minutes earlier. The game, played on a dreadful pitch, was low on quality but high on incident and Wang’s spot kick came after inexperienced Wuhan centre back Han Xuan was rightly penalised for swatting a corner out the air with his hand.
That was neither the beginning nor the end of the drama, though, as Jonoon had already been awarded one penalty in the 17th minute when goalkeeper Sun Shoubo brought down Wang when he was clean through on goal. The Wuhan shot stopper was very fortunate to only be shown a yellow card and immediately repaid the referee’s generosity by saving Quan Lei’s spot kick.
Quite why Wang, who had already successfully converted four penalties this season, was not nominated to do the honours himself is a mystery, but Wuhan were able to breathe a sigh of relief, just as they did in the 70th minute when a mistake from Han Xuan almost gifted Jonoon a goal. The 20-year-old, who scored last weekend’s winner against Hunan Billows on his league debut, was robbed of possession by Ismael Beko Fofana and, with just Sun to beat, the Ivorian unselfishly squared the ball for Deivdy Reiss, only to see the Brazilian gift the Wuhan goalkeeper a comfortable save by playing a shot far too close to him.
Han looked to have made up for his earlier shakiness when he lofted a long ball over to Jovial who had gotten behind the Jonoon back line and showed Deivdy Reiss how it was done with a cool finish when one on one with the goalkeeper. Unfortunately, Han’s time in the limelight wasn’t over as he made the crazy decision to knock a late corner out of the air with his hand rather than risk a Jonoon player behind him heading in.
Han was dismissed for his trouble, and was visibly distraught as he left the field. Wang comfortably dispatched his fifth penalty of the season, but the drama was not over as Wuhan’s Spanish striker Rafa Jorda clearly had his shirt pulled while attempting to run onto a free kick.
The referee was unmoved and the ball struck the post in the ensuing penalty box melee only for Jonoon to quickly break with an advantage in numbers. However, just as the visitors were crossing the half way line, the referee blew the full time whistle and was immediately met by protesting players from both sides.
Despite the excitement, the lack of overall quality in the game clearly demonstrated why both sides have dropped off the promotion pace. Wuhan look almost certain to finish in the mid-table spot they currently occupy, while Jonoon have fallen six points behind second place Beijing BG. That’s not an insurmountable margin, but this is Jonoon’s fifth game without a win, showing a drop in form that has come at just the wrong time.
Hunan Billows 4-2 Xinjiang
Two goals from Chen Zijie helped Hunan take advantage of a seemingly switched off Xinjiang side and claim an important win in their quest for survival. Chen, who arrived from Guizhou Renhe in the winter having been in the China squad as recently as last June, went some way towards rectifying a disappointing season as Hunan managed to score more than twice in a game for the first time in 2015.
Chen opened the scoring in the 29th minute, only for Liu Chao to make an error which gifted League One top scorer Cristian Danalache an equaliser six minutes later. Within five minute, though, Hunan’s advantage had been restored when Igor Burzanovic scored a penalty after he had been fouled by Xinjiang goalie Zhu Zisen.
Five minutes after the half-time interval, Rafael found another equaliser for Xinjiang, only for Chen to give Hunan their third and final lead with a long range 82nd minute effort. Liu Chao made up for his earlier error when he added a fourth in stoppage time to secure a first victory for Hunan manager Zikica Taverski in just his second game in charge.
It’s a big win for the Changsha side who climb one place into thirteenth, and it also means that Xinjiang have now conceded ten goals in their last two games. The visitors continue to travel poorly this season, but this result can perhaps be forgiven considering the fact that a midweek CFA Cup quarter-final clash with Jiangsu Sainty looms.
With Xinjiang’s mid-table status all but assured, most players probably had an eye on the last eight match-up which will take place in Urumqi. Foremost among them will be Danalache who won the CSL golden boot with Jiangsu in 2012.
The Romanian has scored eleven goals in his last seven games and, importantly, has found the net in both of Xinjiang’s previous CFA Cup upset wins over Guangzhou Evergrande and Tianjin TEDA. More of the same on Wednesday could see Xinjiang score an upset victory over the 2014 finalists and set-up a possible semi-final clash with holders Shandong Luneng.
Qingdao Hainiu 2-2 Beijing Institute of Technology
Each side scored a penalty as BIT arrested a run of four straight defeats to claim a point in Qingdao. Wang Wei had given the visitors the lead in just the 7th minute, but Dorde Rakic pegged them back from the penalty spot midway through the first half.
It was the Serbian himself who had won the spot kick and he put Hainiu in front with his second of the game five minutes after half-time. BIT didn’t give up, though, and earned a penalty of their own in the 77th minute which was duly converted by Andres Marquez.
It was the Uruguayan’s tenth goal of the season and second in as many games since returning from a six match suspension. Interestingly, Hainiu’s Julio Guttierez was allowed to play, despite being on loan to the club from a BIT side that remain in the relegation zone, two points behind Shenzhen FC.
Tianjin Songjiang 2-0 Guizhou Zhicheng
Playing just three days after a massive explosion rocked Tianjin, Songjiang gave those in attendance something to smile about with a comfortable 2-0 win over Zhicheng. Li Xingcan opened the scoring with a direct free kick in the 34th minute and Mario Lucio sealed the victory with a goal five minutes before the end.
The result makes no difference to the league positions of the respective sides, but it puts Songjiang three points closer to safety. Zhicheng are now five without a win and sit a less than comfortable four points clear of the drop zone.
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.