League One Round 27 Wrap: Yanbian hammer BG but promotion has to wait as Hebei win and Dalian draw in Harbin
Yanbian Changbaishan delighted their fans with a clinical demolition of Beijing BG, but a controversial draw in Harbin means their wait for promotion extends to another game. Hebei CFFC go two points clear in second with a win over struggling Jiangxi Liansheng as Dalian Aerbin look like the only other side who can now earn promotion. At the bottom, Shenzhen FC pretty much secure survival with a win over Hunan Billows and Beijing Institute of Technology grab a comeback win to keep their survival hopes alive.
Yanbian Changbaishan 5-0 Beijing BG
After a closely fought first half, Yanbian ripped BG apart in the second half, but will have to wait at least another game to secure promotion thanks to Dalian Aerbin’s draw in Harbin. Ha Tae-goon scored a hat-trick and Steve grabbed a brace, including an absurd 18-yard rabona, as BG’s defence fell to pieces.With Yanbian knowing a win could be enough to see them promoted in front of their own fans and BG needing three points to stay in the race for second spot, it was no surprise that the two sides contested an open and entertaining first half. Steve had the ball in the net as early as the 12th minute, although he had already been flagged offside, and Carmelo Valencia almost put the visitors ahead from close four minutes later, only to be denied by an excellent last ditch tackle from Yanbian captain Cui Min.
BG’s Danko Lazovic fired just wide a couple of minutes later as BG enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, but Yanbian might have taken the lead on 26 minutes if Ha had left a low Jailton Paraiba cross for the on-rushing Steve, rather than firing over with the ball slightly behind him. The young Gambian forward appeared upset with the South Korean, but any issues they may have had with each other had evaporated by the end of the game.
Valencia, who scored a hat-trick last weekend, had a couple of other opportunities to put BG ahead but failed to take either of them. The first came when he shot wide after a delightful flick from Lazovic, who was the best player in the first half, and the second saw the Colombian head wide from a very precise Wang Changqing cross.
All the signs were positive for BG, but the game swung decisively in first half stoppage time when Steve’s cross allowed Ha to get between centre backs Nikola Vujadinovic and Tang Jiashu and head in from eight yards. It was a fine cross and clever movement from Ha, but Vujadinovic should have done better and it was a sign of things to come.
BG came out positively after the interval, with Valencia looking menacing but lacking end product. Unfortunately for the capital city side, their search for an equaliser left them increasingly vulnerable on the break and their defence soon imploded in the face of Yanbian’s rapid counter attacking and pressing.
Ha’s second came on the hour mark when he intercepted an under hit pass from Tang who was being pressured by Jailton Paraiba. The South Korean still had a lot to do, but showed a great burst off pace to power between Tang and Wang Changqing before producing a cool finish that went in off the post.
The floodgates were now open and Ha completed his hat-trick in the 73rd minute when he took advantage of a dreadful error from Vujadinovic. The Montenegrin somehow let Pei Yuwen’s soft pass drift by him, giving Ha a straightforward close range finish that BG goalkeeper Dong Lei might have done better with.
From that point, the game was over as a contest, but their was still plenty of entertainment to come. In the 80th minute Ha turned provider as he held off Tang before slotting the ball into Steve who was in acres of space thanks to a napping Wang Changqing.
The Gambian made no mistake with his finish, but the best was yet to come. Just a minute later, Piao Shihao passed to Steve on the edge of the area and with the ball slightly behind him, the youngster opted to readjust his feet and sweep the ball in off the post with his right foot which he had flicked behind his standing leg.
It was a fitting end to a comprehensive demolition that leaves BG’s promotion hopes in tatters. After getting themselves back into contention with two wins in a week, they are now four points behind second placed Hebei and face an uphill struggle to ascend to the top flight. To make matters worse, they now travel to Shanghai for a CFA Cup semi-final against Shenhua on Wednesday.
The one downside for Yanbian is that Dalian Aerbin’s draw means promotion is not yet guaranteed. Needing just one point from their final three games, there is absolutely no doubt that Yanbian will successfully complete their incredible single season turnaround from relegated League One side to Super League competitors. Its a shame for their supporters, though, that that point is likely to be earned in Wuhan after the international break rather than in front of their 28,000+ rapid supporters.
Harbin Yiteng 2-2 Dalian Aerbin
A stoppage time equaliser from Adam Hughes denied Aerbin victory after two serious defensive errors had gifted Sun Guowen a second half brace that almost gave Dalian victory. Juan Nunez had given Harbin the lead in the 39th minute, but Sun bagged his strikes in the 74th and 76th minutes courtesy of some shocking defending from Heilongjiang club.
The Dalian goals caused consternation among the home fans, many of whom strongly implied that something suspicious was taking place. With Dalian desperate for a win to keep themselves in the thick of the Super League hunt, there was a feeling that many of Harbin’s players may not have been putting in 100%.
This was compounded by the fact that several of Harbin’s squad are originally from Dalian and the fact that their owners, Yiteng, are a Dalian based company. Hughes’s late equaliser did little to placate the crowd who were also upset that Colombian attacker Ricardo Steel had been left on the bench.
After the match, Harbin boss Duan Xin said Steel had been left out as he is planning on leaving in the winter after four seasons with the club, but with Harbin still on the fringes of the promotion race, the Colombian’s absence from the starting line-up was interpreted as unusual by many. For their part, Aerbin were without the suspended Bruno Meneghel and Jin Qiang, and undoubtedly missed the former’s attacking contributions.
Dalian remain in third but have now slipped two points behind Hebei CFFC with three games to go. Harbin, meanwhile, have effectively seen their hopes of an immediate return to the Super League slip away as the gap between them and second has been extended to seven points.
Hebei CFFC 1-0 Jiangxi Liansheng
Hebei were unconvincing against the league’s bottom side, but a 60th minute goal from Ibba Laajab was enough to give them a win which pulls them two points clear of Dalian Aerbin. Once again, Jiangxi were very competitive, but came up short and now sit four points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Laajab’s goal came thanks to a sublime 60-yard pass from midfielder Nenad Milijas who had dropped back into the left back position. Some criticism could be levelled at Jiangxi’s Brazilian centre back Demerson who failed to get his head on the ball, but Laajab did well to control and fire past goalkeeper Wu Fei.
Just a minute before Laajab’s strike, Adi Rocha had been denied the chance to put the visitors ahead when Du Wenyang did a fine job of cutting out a cross just as the Brazilian was about to let fly from close range. In a game of fine margins, Laajab should have put Hebei in front when he headed over in first half stoppage time and, although Hebei were just about the better side, Jiangxi frequently threatened on the break.
Although they’ve failed to set the world alight, Hebei have taken thirteen points from five games since Li Tie took over from Radomir Antic and, given the relative softness of their remaining schedule, are clear favourites to join Yanbian Changbaishan in next year’s Super League. Jiangxi are also clear favourites to not be in League One next season, although their route out of the division will be downward. They need to win at least two of their remaining three games in order to avoid an instant return to League Two.
Shenzhen FC 3-1 Hunan Billows
A brace from the in-form Babacar Gueye helped Shenzhen take a massive step towards survival while leaving Hunan perilously close to the drop. Things looked to be going well for the visitors when Carlos Cabezas put them 1-0 up a minute before the break, but three second half goals gave Shenzhen a third consecutive victory.
Gueye struck the equaliser in the 51st minute, a Cai Jingyuan cross on the hour mark forced a Hunan own goal and Gueye sealed the win with another goal five minutes later. Shenzhen’s winning streak coincides with Gueye’s return to form, with Senegalese striker bagging five goals during their three game winning run.
It can also be attributed to new head coach Li Haiqiang, who took over from South Korean Lee Lim-saeng four games ago, and the club’s improved financial stability. Whatever the reason, Shenzhen’s late resurgence means they are very likely to avoid the dubious distinction of becoming the first professional era Chinese league champions to drop into the third tier after already becoming the only such club to be relegated from the top division (Dalian Shide/Wanda obviously met a worse fate than Shenzhen by going out of business, but they were never relegated).
Shenzhen’s upturn in fortunes also coincides with a decline in Hunan’s. After a reasonable start under the leadership of Macedonian head coach Zikica Taveski, the club have now lost three in a row and desperately need to avoid defeat when they host Beijing Instute of Technology after the international break.
Beijing Institute of Technology 2-1 Wuhan Zall
There was controversy in the capital as a retaken Andres Marquez penalty gave BIT a vital victory in their battle for survival. With the scores tied at 1-1, the penalty was awarded for a 58th minute foul on the Uruguayan.
Wuhan’s players were furious with the initial decision, but things escalated after Sun Shoubo saved Marquez’s first spot kick only for a retake to be ordered thanks to encroaching Zall players. This led to some ugly scenes and the former Hebei CFFC player was finally able to step up and score at the second time of asking, more than six minutes after the penalty had been given.
It was the striker’s eighth penalty of the season and second controversial spot kick against Zall after he netted a late equaliser in Wuhan back in round 12. Interestingly, it was during that fiery contest in June that Marquez also made an unfriendly gesture towards an official which resulted in a six game ban.
Before all of that controversy, Yao Hanlin had put the visitors in front after half an hour, only for Guo Ziyin to level things up in the 54th minute thanks to an assist from Maureen Franco. Franco had actually already put the ball into the net in the 12th minute but, unfortunately for him, it was directly from a long throw-in that didn’t touch anybody else on its way past Sun Shoubo.
The result means that Wuhan, once again fielding five players born in 1995, are in real danger of finishing outside of the top half, but its much more important for BIT who have brought themselves level on points with Hunan Billows. The “Student Army” remain in the relegation zone based on their inferior head-to-head record, but they have an opportunity to rectify that after the international break when they take on Billows in a massive game in Changsha.
Qingdao Hainiu 0-1 Tianjin Songjiang
A 64th minute strike from full back Zhang Wei gave Songjiang a third consecutive 1-0 victory which officially confirms their League One survival. The victory comes at the end of a week where next season’s manager Vanderlai Luxemburgo had come to visit Tianjin as part of his preparations for the 2016 season.
The Brazilian, who has previously managed his nation’s national team and Real Madrid, has signed an eye-wateringly well paid one year contract which will apparently be extended for a further two seasons should he achieve promotion. He 62-year-old has a tough act to follow, though, in the shape of Songjiang’s outgoing manager Goran Tomic.
The Croatian took over with Songjiang bottom of the table with four points from eight games and has since hauled in a 30 point tally which can only be beaten by four other teams over the same period. Remarkably, after their dreadful start to the season, Songjiang have a real shot at a top half finish which will provide a solid springboard for when new owners Quanjian start splashing the cash on new players in the winter.
Although they lost, results elsewhere mean that Hainiu are now mathematically safe and have little left to play for in 2015
Hohhot Zhongyou 0-0 Xinjiang
A clash between clubs representing two of China’s remotest footballing outposts ended in an inconsequential goalless draw. With Hohhot all but eliminated from the promotion race after last weekend’s defeat to Qingdao Hainiu and Xinjiang firmly entrenched in mid-table, there was little to play for between these two sides.
Given that Xinjiang have the worst away record in the league, they will be by far the happiest with this point. Hohhot maintain a mathematical chance of promotion, but for that to happen the unlikely scenario of the Inner Mongolians winning their remaining three games and Hebei CFFC losing all of their’s would have to take place. Hohhot may have missed out on the Super League, but what looks like being a top six finish during their first season in the second tier is still a very good achievement.
Guizhou Zhicheng 3-1 Qingdao Jonoon
Three goals in less than 10 second half minutes gave Zhicheng a victory which all but secures their League One survival. Pang Zhiquan, Lin Longchang and Yves Ekwalla Herman all scored between the 50th and 60th minutes to render the first half free kick of Jonoon’s Rogerinho meaningless.
Zhicheng now need just one point from their remaining three games to guarantee their spot in 2016’s League One, while Jonoon’s season continues its descent into free fall. The Shandong club have now lost four in a row and are in real danger of dropping out of the top half before the end of the season.
Rearranged Fixture – Wednesday September 23rd
Beijing BG 4-0 Guizhou Zhicheng
Young Taiwanese midfielder Chen Hao-wei scored a hat-trick as BG ran out comfortable winners over Zhicheng. Chen struck in the 15th, 63rd and 78th minutes and substitute Godfred Karikari added a fourth six minutes from time.
The game had been rescheduled from round 24 as the capital city prepared for the September 3rd military parade. The win pulled BG within one point of second, but this weekend’s crushing in Yanbian and Hebei CFFC’s victory has undone all of that good work.
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.