2017 EAFF E-1 Football Championship Matchday 1: China somewhat lucky to get a point against South Korea

South Korea 2 – 2 China
(Kim Shin-Wook ’12, Lee Sung-Jae ‘19 – Wei Shiaho ‘9, Yu Dabao ’76)

Both China and South Korea started the match at full speed with the first goal coming after only nine minutes of play.

And it was a young China side, fielding six players born on or after 1995, that took the lead first, through one of the youngsters. Debutant Wei Shihao received the ball just inside the South Korean penalty area and with all the South Korean defenders looking at either the ball or Yu Dabao, found himself totally unmarked. The Shanghai SIPG player, who scored three goals in 14 appearances in the Super League campaign just gone, sent the ball along the grass and into the bottom corner out of the keeper, Kim Jin-Hyeon’s reach.

But the celebrations were short-lived for China as just three minutes later, South Korea pulled level. Lee Myung-Joo and Lee Sung-Jae combined nicely outside of China’s box and passed their way in to the penalty area. As China’s goalkeeper Yan Junling rushed out to stop him, Lee Sung-Jae got a touch to the ball and passed it to striker Kim Shin-Wook who could easily slot it into the open goal.

And South Korea didn’t stop there. Ten minutes after China’s goal the Korean’s took the lead in the match. This time it was Lee Sung-Jae’s turn. Kim Shin-Wook returned the favour Lee had given to him on the first goal as he headed a long ball down into the winger’s path. Finishing slightly off balance, the Korean’s no.17 still managed to get enough power on the ball so that Yan Junling could only get a hand to it. The South Korean’s were 2-1 up.

At halftime China coach Marcello Lippi had plenty to think about but it wasn’t until the 76th minute that China found another breakthrough. A cross was swung in from the left and again the South Korean defence was caught ball watching as Yu Dabao rose above a defender and headed the ball into the goal via the post.

The match finished 2-2 and China could perhaps count themselves quite lucky, especially when looking at the stats. South Korea had most of the possession and even had one more shot on goal than China had shots in total. But the young Chinese lineup did well and when Lippi introduced a few more experienced heads in the second half they really showed promise.

In the other match of the tournament’s first day, Japan had massive problems against Jørn Andersen’s North Korea but was saved by Gamba Osaka’s Yosuke Ideguchi as he hammered a strike home from just outside the box, four minutes into added time. North Korea had plenty of chances in the game but Japan’s goalkeeper was up to the task and so Ideguchi’s late thunderbolt saved the day for the hosts.

China’s Lineup:

Yan Junling – Deng Hanwen, Liu Yiming, Gao Zhunyi, Zheng Zheng – Zhao Xuri, He Chao, Wu Xi (Yin Hongbo ’73) – Yang Liyu (Xiao Zhi ’65), Wei Shihao (Li Xuepeng ’46), Yu Dabao