Odion Ighalo nets four as Guizhou Zhicheng hammered; Shandong close gap
Gregorio Manzano called on Guizhou Zhicheng's fans to continue to back their team despite seeing them fall to a sixth defeat in seven Chinese Super League games on Saturday as Odion Ighalo scored four to give Changchun Yatai a 5-2 win over the Spaniard's team.
Manzano took over last summer and steered the club to safety, but Guizhou have won just once so far this season -- against Shandong Luneng at the start of April -- and the loss to Changchun sees them remain stuck in the relegation zone.
"Compared to last year, our strikers' scoring ability is weaker this year and it was the ability of Ighalo that was the difference," said the former Beijing Guoan and Shanghai Shenhua coach. "I hope everyone can see the players on the pitch and that the current situation is due to our offence.
"The most important thing for all of our staff is to bring happiness to the fans, so now the players are very emotional. We're a small team in the Chinese Super League and we need to work with our fans to achieve unity so we can win.
"As long as the fans believe in the team they will always encourage us and I'm sure the win will come. We've only won the game in Jinan and we've lost all of the other games because we've conceded the first goal. This is what we need to solve. Everyone is nervous but our fans deserve the best so we have to work harder."
Ighalo put Changhun in front from the penalty spot in the 24th minute, only for Du Wei to level the scores nine minutes later. But goals from Tan Long and Ighalo before the interval gave Changchun a two-goal advantage at half-time.
Wang Fan reduced the deficit on the hour mark but another two goals in the final four minutes by Ighalo earned all three points for Changchun.
Shandong, meanwhile, closed the gap on league leaders Shanghai SIPG to three points with a 4-2 win over Guangzhou R&F.
Xiao Zhi put R&F in front and a missed penalty from Eran Zahavi eight minutes before the break was to cost Dragan Stojkovic's side as Gil, Jin JIngdao and Graziano Pelle put Shandong 3-1 up.
Xiao scored again to give R&F hope but Diego Tardelli scored from close range four minutes from time to take a win that, temporarily, takes them above champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
Hebei China Fortune's disappointing start to the season continued as Manuel Pellegrini's side were held to a 0-0 draw by newly promoted Beijing Renhe to leave both clubs sitting on eight points from seven matches.
League leaders SIPG face Tianjin Teda on Sunday, with Guangzhou Evergrande taking on Beijing Guoan, Jiangsu Suning playing Shanghai Shenhua and Tianjin Quanjian travelling to meet Dalian Yifang.
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch