Vagner Love hat-trick gives Shandong Luneng comfortable CFA Cup lead

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Cerezo Osaka v Shandong Luneng FC - AFC Champions League Group E

Fans at Jinan Olympic Sports Center were treated to a goal fest on Sunday afternoon as ran away with a 4-2 win over Jiangsu Sainty in the first leg of the Chinese FA Cup final.

The game was end-to-end in the first half, though defences played their part in both teams seeing very few genuine opportunities. The deadlock was eventually broken in the 15th minute, when Jiangsu’s Ji Xiang stepped up to take a curling free kick that flew past Wang Dalei. Shandong continued to step up their attack and started playing in more direct passages as Jiangsu played deeper. It wasn’t long before Vagner Love opened his account with Shandong’s equaliser coming from a corner kick, catching Jiangsu goalkeeper Deng Xiaofei in no man’s land.

Vagner Love continued to be a threat towards the end of the first half, with Xiaofei keeping him out with a double save moments before the referee blew the whistle for half time.

The second half was even more open than the first, as Shandong looked to take full control of the match. Poor passing gifted Shandong possession in an attacking position during the 53rd minute, which they used to work a cross onto the head of Junior Urso, who made his close range effort look easy. Just minutes later, Shandong were awarded a penalty as Ryan McGowan’s shirt was pulled as he ran to get on the end of a free kick. Vagner Love calmly stepped up to the spot and sent Xiaofei the wrong way.

Shandong were awarded another penalty ten minutes later that sealed Vagner Love’s hattrick and the team’s fourth of the night. But Jiangsu refused to give up as Yang Xiaotiang’s powerful shot was parried, landing at the feet of Wu Xi whose own shot was lucky deflected over Shandong goalkeeper Wang Dalei’s head to reduce the margin to two goals.

The two sides will meet again for the second leg of the final on the 22nd of November at Nanjing Olympic Sports Center.