Changchun Yatai claimed a convincing 2-1 victory over Dalian Professional, claiming revenge in their first match back in the Chinese Super League.
November 11th 2018, the last match played by Changchun Yatai in the top tier of football in the middle kingdom, coincidentally came against the same team they faced on their return more than two years later.
Dalian, then named Yifang, claimed a 2-0 victory over an Odion Ighalo-less Changchun side and condemned them to relegation for the first time since their debut season in the top tier back in 2006.
After two years of changes, both teams faced off for the first time in league competition since that day and it was the 2020 China League One champions that claimed all three points to open their 2021 season.
Manager Chen Yang deployed a familiar 4-2-3-1 system with the potent attacking quartet of Júnior Negrão, Erik Lima, Serginho and Tan Long leading the way.
Dalian, meanwhile, were only able to call upon the help of just one import player – centre back Marcus Danielson. This allowed a stronger Changchun side to take the lead through a deflected shot by Negrão in the 36th minute of play.
Changchun Yatai continued to control much of the game in the dongbei derby, retaining 55% of possession, and it was just after the hour mark that Erik Lima extended his team’s lead to 2-0.
Negrão was involved again, receiving a clean pass into the box before offloading to his fellow Brazilian wide open on the left.
Erik sent a strong shot at goalkeeper Zhang Chong, who managed to block the shot but only to see it hit the forward and bounce into the back of the net.
A 2-0 finish would have been perfect symmetry on the last time the two teams faced off, but it wasn’t to be as Dalian were awarded a penalty and Danielson sent Shi Xiaotian the wrong way, giving his side a consolation goal.
It is a positive start to life back in the Chinese Super League for Changchun Yatai, who will be hoping for more of the same when they take on Tianjin Jinmen Tigers next Thursday (29th April), with the club’s two biggest signings this off-season opening their scoring accounts and getting three points on the board right out of the gate.
Consistency throughout the team will have benefitted Chen Yang’s side, though plenty of new faces were awarded starts and the likes of Hui Jiakang, Wang Peng, Jores Okore and Zhang Yufeng look set to play key roles for their new club this season.