Week one has come to an end in the 2021 Chinese Super League season, and there was plenty of action for the fans in attendance, or watching from afar.
The 2021 season kicked off with the two bubble groups, Group A in Guangzhou and Group B in Suzhou, with plenty of high-interest games reigniting excitement after months of uncertainty and disappointment behind the scenes.
Here’s what happened in the opening week of Group A fixtures.
Guangzhou FC 2-2 Guangzhou City
The Guangzhou-based group unsurprisingly got the new season underway with a matchup between the two host city teams in the top tier: Guangzhou FC (formerly Evergrande) and Guangzhou City (formerly R&F).
The Guangzhou derby was an entertaining affair and almost saw an impressive upset, with Guangzhou City taking a 2-1 lead in the 51st minute.
The score remained as such until the dying minutes of regulation, before 21-year-old defender Wu Shaocong notched a goal that ensured the nine-time Chinese champions claimed a point on the opening day of the new season.
Chongqing Liangjiang Athletic 0-2 Shandong Taishan
The second match of the 2021 season ended with a much more expected result as Shandong Taishan claimed all three points against the newly named Chongqing Liangjiang Athletic, keeping a clean sheet in the process.
The match pitted the two teams that battled in the 5th/6th place playoffs in 2020 against each other, with the final result unsurprisingly resulting in a victory for the team in orange.
Latest signing, Brazilian forward Leonardo, opened the scoring in the 54th minute before Guo Tianyu put the match out of Chongqing’s reach 13 minutes later, ensuring an opening day victory for the four-time Chinese champions.
Qingdao FC 2-1 Cangzhou Mighty Lions
The third match of the season saw two of last season’s bottom-dwellers face off, with Qingdao claiming an important early victory against Cangzhou – who were only admitted to the CSL again after Jiangsu FC’s untimely dissolution.
Cangzhou (formerly Shijiazhuang Ever Bright) arguably were the better team throughout the match, dominating possession with 72% and having the majority of chances, with 18 shots on goal and six on target.
As always in football, however, it’s what you do with your possession more than how much you have. Qingdao took the lead through Zhou Junchen three minutes before the end of the first half, but Cangzhou pulled things level when Adama Diomande netted in the 67th minute.
The tie did not last long, however, and Qingdao’s Croatian striker Dejan Radonjić scored the winning goal just two minutes later, consigning the previously relegated Cangzhou to a disappointing opening day loss.
Henan Songshan Longmen 1-2 Shenzhen FC
The final match of Group A saw the continually growing Shenzhen claim victory over Henan, who endured a difficult off-season after an initial, controversial, renaming attempt was met with severe disapproval from their fans.
In their opening match, Henan appeared to hold the better chances of stealing victory, but it was the Guangdong club who claimed all three points thanks to two of their most recent signings.
Alan Kardec, a frequent goalscoring in the Chinese top tier with Chongqing, scored the match-winner in the 54th minute of play, following on from former Tianjin Jinmen Tiger striker Frank Acheampong’s 21st-minute opener.
Henan did pull things level in the 31st minute through Mohamed Buya Turay, but the strength of Shenzhen’s side, who will be eager to improve on last season’s 13th-placed finish, was on display and they held on to claim all three points.