Chinese Super League: Week 1 Review

Shanghai SIPG 4 – 1 Shijiazhuang Yongchang, Chinese Super League, August 2016
by Jack Tanner

Guangzhou FC 2 v 2 Guangzhou City

The Canton Derby. Always exciting, action packed and full of goals. In 27 matches against each other (in all competitions) there has been 87 goals scored from both sides. With today’s game being no exception to the above point.

The game started as expected from CSL giants Guangzhou FC, opening up the score line on the 7th minute with a Alan Carvalho goal, assisted by Liao Lisheng. But it wasn’t long after this, that Guangzhou City levelled things up, after gaining a fortuitous own goal from 23 year old midfielder Yan Dinghao.

Just before half time, City gave away a penalty and Guangzhou had the chance to retake the lead. But it wasn’t to be, when striker Elkeson had his shot saved brilliantly by Han Jiaqi

After half time, Guangzhou came out fired up and dominated possession. Bringing in new signing Goulart for his debut and left winger Wei Shihao, who has 19 goals in 35 appearances.

But despite this, it was City who took a surprise lead in the 51st minute through a Ye Chugui goal. Once the blue side of Guangzhou had their second, they were more than happy to sit back and protect their lead. A bold strategy by new manager Jean-Paul van Gastel. One which almost paid dividence, until full back Wu Shaocong scored a header in the 86th minute to burst City’s bubble.

An exciting and impressive display in the opening game of the 2021 season and in front of 30,000 fans

Chongqing Liangjiang Athletic 0 v 2 Shandong Taishan

Shandong got straight off the mark in their opening game against Chongqing with a dominant display. The Taishan Dui had 79% possession during the game and a whopping 697 passes compared to Chongqing’s 195.

Chongqing appeared frustrated by Shangdong’s control of the game, picking up three yellow cards in the first 25 minutes.

But it wasn’t until the second half when Shandong stepped things up into another gear. Seeing that Chongqing were there for the taking, they made a change at half time to bring on striker, Leonardo on for midfielder Ji Xiang. This proved to be an important decision, when Leonardo scored a header in the 53rd minute, from Song Long’s cross on the left wing.

It wasn’t long after that Shandong doubled their lead in the 67th minute when Guo Tianyu chested down Xu Xin’s chipped through ball and hit it on the half volley to beat the keeper at the near post.

Overall Shandong looked fantastic, playing with great attacking flair and finesse. Chongqing could barely get a look in and were outplayed by some beautiful football. Korean international Son Jun-ho, looked great in his debut, playing a full 90 minutes and not putting a foot wrong all game. He adjusted well, which was illustrated by the 8.1 rating he recieved – third best in the team.

Whilst they didn’t have much going for them in the form of an attack, Chongqing did reasonably well to keep Shandong at bay despite their constant dominance. They shouldn’t lose heart after being beaten by strong title contender. It’ll be interesting to see how Chongqing look when striker Miler Bolanos starts a game.

Qingdao 2 v 1 Cangzhou Mighty Lions

This was Cangzhou Mighty Lions first game under their new name, after almost being relegated last season. Previously named Shijiazhuang Ever Bright, Cangzhou looked to make the most of their second chance in the top flight and dominated the stats in terms of possession, passes and shots on goal.

It was a relativley slow start to the game, with not much action occuring until the 41st minute when Zhou Junchen slammed the ball across goal to give Qingdao the lead. With forward Zhu Jianrong, doing well to hold the ball up in the box and playing a through ball to his teammate whilst falling.

It was a relatively slow start in the second half, with the Lions once again missing big opportunites to equalise. But it wasn’t long before they would reap the rewards of their constant attack, with some brilliant one twos in the build up from Muriqui and Zang Yifeng. This passage of play allowed Muriqui to send in a direct ball to Norwegian Adam Diomande’s feet and score a simple tap in on his debut in the 66th minute.

But it would be Qingdao who respond first from the equaliser. Straight from the centre circle after Cangzhou’s goal, they went on the attack and hit it out to Ezmat on the right wing. He reacted quickly to a defenders misjudgement and brought the ball inside, laying it off to forward Dejan Radonjić, who hit it first time outside of the box to send it hurdling into the top right corner. A stunning goal, which proved to be the winner!

They may have been outclassed in many aspects on the field, but when it came down to it, Qingdao took the small number of chances they had incredibly well. Cangzhou on the other hand, should not be disheartened and should learn from this when they play Henan next week.

Henan Songshan Longmen 1 v 2 Shenzen FC

Unlike some of the other opening games, the tie between Henan v Shenzen was alot more balanced, with both sides having an even amount of the ball and opportunities.

Juan Fernando Quintero on his debut for Shenzhen gave everybody something to be astounded by, when he saw the Henan keeper off his line and attempted an audacious long range shot from the half way line! Which to be fair to him, he wasn’t that far off and made the keeper scramble across the goal mouth.

So it came as no surprise really when in the 20th minute Quintero went on a run from the right wing, cutting inside and threading a tremendous through ball past 5 Henan defenders to Shenzhen striker Frank Acheampong. He made no mistake. Taking one touch to control and calmly slotting it past the keeper and 2 defenders.

But Shenzen’s excitement wouldn’t last too long. In the 31st minute, Henan defender Bouxan lofted through a deep and long ball to target man Mohamed Buya Turay. Shenzen’s keeper came racing out of his box in effort to clear the danger, but Turay took a smart touch to take it past the keeper and take the shot on from 30 yards out to score the equaliser. A brilliant goal on his debut.

In the second half, it was again an even battle between Henan and Shenzhen. However, it would be the the latter who would emerge victorious. Again Quintero with the assist, but this time from a corner which found prolific CSL goalscorer Alan Kardec’s head as he towered above the keeper and powered it home. This proved to be the winner in a highly entertaining and energetic game

Dalian Pro 1 v 2 Changchun Yatai

It was a quiet and slowstart to the game between Dalian and Changchun, with both sides happy to keep possession and get a feel for their opponenent.

Ex- Ulsan Hyundai player, Junior Negrão, looked sharp on his debut. Creating attacking opportunities and holding the ball up well to include his teammates in the final third. So it came as no surprise really given his achievements in K League, that he would be the player to open the scoring in the 35th minute. After a Serginho pass, Junior went on an unchallenged run in the centre of the pitch before cutting inside and firing a shot off from outside the box. The shot took a fortuitous deflection of a Dalian defender which was enough to take it past the dazed goalkeeper.

Dalian had their fair share of chances after half time to level the score, but failed to really test the keeper. It was then that Yatai began their attack, putting Pro’s defence under pressure with neat one two passing in the final third. But the breakthrough came in the 60th minute when Changchun doubled their lead through an Erik goal. Assisted selflessly by Junior Negrão, he played the ball off gently to his left so that Erik could hit it first time. Dalian’s keeper Zhang Chong, did well to save Erik’s shot, but the ball then ricocheted back to Erik, bouncing off his thigh and over Zhang into the net to make it 2-0.

Yatai continued their momentum towards the end of the game, not satisified with two goals. However, Dalian weren’t ready to be ruled out yet. Getting some shots in on goal in the final 10 minutes. Just as the game look over, Dalian were awared a penalty in the 91st minute following a handball in the box. VAR confirmed the referees onfield decision as centre back Marcus Danielson slotted the penalty down the middle of the goal to end the game 2-1 to Changchun Yatai.

Tianjin Jinmen Tiger 1 v 6 Shanghai Port

Two teams which are complete opposites. With Shanghai’s history, roster, finances and recent success, it was hard to not see this being anything other than a rout, given that they were playing Tianjin. And a rout it was. Shanghai Port dominated the game, recording 21 shots, 668 passes and 70% of posession

From the opening moment of the game, it was all Shanghai. They had mutiple opportunities to go in front, but put the ball wide of the target each time. However it was in the 26th minute that ex- West Ham and Stoke City forward, Marko Arnautovic opened the scoring with a powerful header, following a beautifully whipped in cross by Oscar on the right wing.

It was that former Chelsea man involved again a few minutes later. When he whipped in another amazing cross from the left wing, to Wenjun Lu, who guided it over the keeper with his head to make it 2-0 Shanghai after 30 minutes.

It was fair to say that Teng Shangkun, was the more exhausted of the keepers heading into half time

But the onslaught didn’t stop there, with Shanghai getting straight back to business. Oscars cross was punched away by the Tianjin keeper, but only to punch it towards Ricardo Lopes’s head, who carefully headed the ball over Shangkun to make it 3-0.

The fourth goal for Shanghai came 2 minutes later in the 49th minute, when Arnautovic bagged his brace, after pouncing on Song Yue’s heavy touch in the penalty area to hit it first time into the bottom right corner.

A few moments later Shanghai made it 5-0, with Oscar getting a hat-trick of assists, after finding Ricardo Lopes’s head from a corner. The Brazilian made no mistake when he towered above Tianjin’s defence to power it off the post and into the bottom right corner to get his brace.

The 15 minutes of play from half time to the 60th minute, is definitely a period of time that Tianjin will want to forget quickly. As 5 minutes after the 5th goal, that man Arnautovic got his well deserved hat-trick, following on from a….you guessed it….another Oscar assist. Shanghai’s number 8, lofted in another beautiful aerial ball through Tianjin’s defence, finding Arnautovic who controlled it down with his chest after beating the offside trap and slotting it past the keeper.

After an action packed 90 minutes, the game finally came to a close when Tianjin hit Shanghai on the counter. 25 year old loanee, Dun Ba hit a perfect through ball in between the backline to midfielder Jules Iloki. The frenchman made no mistake, when he cooly lifted the ball past Shanghai’s keeper in the 94th minute to finish the game 6-1.

Hebei FC 1 v 1 Wuhan FC

It would be quite typical, that one game I was able to watch in full, would be one of the quietest. It would take until the second half of the match, before things started to develop.

Two minutes after the half time whistle, it was Hebei who scored the first goal after a good passage of play in Wuhan’s final third. 23 year old Lin Cui recieved the ball in the centre of pitch and saw midfielder Yin Hongbo making a run from the right wing and into the penalty box. Lin Cui, did brilliantly to send in a deep lofted ball over Wuhan’s defensive line, which Hongbo finished with a precision header into the bottom left corner.

But Wuhan would not give up so easily. Following Hebei’s goal, new manager Li Xiaopeng made a double substituiton, bringing on Ivory Coast striker Jean Evrard Kouassi, who has 42 goals in 90 appearances for Wuhan.

This substitution would prove to be an important one, when in the 59th minute Li Han curled in a corner to the near post and it was met by that man Kouassi to head it past the keeper.

Both sides would have further chances in the later stages of the game, but neither team were able to make the most of their opportunites.

Shanghai Shenhua v Beijing Guoan

One of the oldest and fiercest rivalries is between Beijing Guoan and Shanghai Shenhua. It is often referred to as the China Derby. The reason for this is because they are argubly the two most important cities in China, with one being the city of government and the other being the city of finance and buisness.

From the first minute of this game, you could tell it was rivarly. From the fans jeering and booing from the stands, to the players getting stuck into challenges and squaring up to each other on the pitch. It was a surprise really when the game somehow managed to reach halftime with only one yellow card.

Despite the game being heated and rather end to end, both sides had minimal shots at goal. Beijing arguably were the better side for a while, by dominating possession. But it isn’t about how much you have the ball, rather it’s what you do with it. In the 59th minute Shenhua won a corner and Yu Hanchao curled the ball into the box whilst captain Giovanni Moreno (Gio) peeled away from Beijing’s defence and headed the ball into the bottom left corner.

Once Shanghai had that taste for goal, the 1-0 lead wasn’t enough for them. After a cross into the penalty area, Kim Shin-wook headed the ball to Gio in the box. Realising he had his back to goal and defenders behind him, he layed it off for the incoming Wu Xi who calmly placed it first time into the bottom left corner.

Guoan did manage to respond in the 91st minute, but it was too little too late at that point. The Beijing goal came about from an excellent ball across goal from Li Ke which was finished first time by left-back Li Lei.

Beijing may have excelled in passing and possession, but they were ultimatley let down by their ability to create opportunites in the attacking third and shots on goal. Meanwhile Shenhua made the most of theirs, to end the game 2-1 in their favour.

It is worth noting that there was an…..impressive 43 fouls in this game and only four yellow cards.

Tables

Group AMPWDLPoints
1Shandong Taishan11003
2Shenzhen FC11003
3Qindgdao11003
4Guangzhou City10101
5Guangzhou FC10101
6Henan Songshan Longmen10010
7Cangzhou Mighty Lions10010
8Chongqing Liangjiang10010
Group BMPWDLPoints
1Shanghai Port11003
2Shanghai Shenhua11003
3Changchun Yatai11003
4Wuhan FC10101
5Hebei FC10101
6Beijing Guoan10010
7Dalian Pro10010
8Tianjin Jinmen Tiger10010

How to watch

Since writing my preview, I have found two YouTube channels which seem to be consistent in showing full CSL games. There is however, either no commentary or is in Chinese commentary

WKL ChineseFootball – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzeeZN0jjEXj8-F3KF7HwQA

Jayus CSL Football – https://www.youtube.com/user/zaimov008

Published by Charlotte Patterson

25 | #SAFC and #OCSC | Football Enthusiast | Asian Football Writer for @footballCFB ⚽️

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