Jets open strongly in Weifang

The Newcastle Jets have kicked off their Weifang Cup campaign with a thrilling 4-3 win over Shanghai SIPG at the Shandong Luneng Academy in Weifang, China.

In hot and humid conditions the Jets were dominant early, controlling possession and creating a number of chances.

Yerasimakis Petratos caused headaches for Shanghai on the right edge, providing penetrating runs and dangerous balls into Cai Tipaldo.

Skipper, Kieran Hayes and his central pairing, Thomas Beecham were solid at the back, thwarting off Shanghai’s early attacks.

However, it was the Shanghai side that went closest to scoring first against the run of play, when they were awarded a free kick just outside the box.

The free kick was hit sweetly, up over the wall, forcing Tristan Esquilant to make a brilliant diving save to his right.

Petratos went within centimetres of opening the scoring, as he hit the post after finding himself in space in the area after being played on goal by a beautiful back heel from Ryan Goodhew.

But it was Tipaldo who drew first blood, after being played in behind the Shanghai defence and beating their advancing keeper with a neat finish.

With half-time approaching a mistake at the back opened the door for Shanghai and they leveled the score with a wonderful long range strike.

They then took the lead in the 46th minute after another effort from long range just evaded a diving Esquilant.

It was a frustrating end to a half in which the Jets had dominated.

Goodhew squared it all up not long after half time as he got on the end of a Joey O’Connor cross, finishing nicely at the back post.

Shanghai were doing their best to slow the game down and halt the visitor’s momentum with two players forced from the ground, on stretchers, with cramp.

Josh Cairelli came on for a tiring Petratos at the 72nd minute and provided some zip out wide, but it was again the Chinese side who would score against the run of play taking a 3-2 lead off a set piece.

Riley Smith and Kaleb Cox came on to replace Tipaldo and Jackson Frendo who had worked himself into the ground.

Smith made an instant impact in the 80th minute after winning the ball in a dangerous area and playing Harrison through on goal with a lovely pass.

Four minutes later Smith went one better, storming onto a loose ball just out side the area, rounding the keeper, and knocking the winner into an empty net.

Head Coach, Labi Haliti was thrilled and relieved with the opening win.

“Entertaining game, lots of goals, but in the end we got there,” Haliti said.

“They are a good side, Shanghai SIPG, I think they have a budget of around $40-50 million and their youth team is full-time – we have some kids here, 16 and 17 years old.

“To do what they did here today, they’ve made everyone proud – more importantly they’ve made themselves, their families and everyone in Newcastle proud.

“Great performance, but it’s only day one, and as we learned last year, day one is good to get a win, but we’ve got another six or seven days to go.”

Starting XI:

Tristan ESQUILANT (gk), Ryan GOODHEW, Thomas Beecham, Callum Gabriel, Kieran Hayes (c), Joey O’Connor, Jackson Frendo, Jack Simmons, Yerasimakis Petratos, Kent Harrison, Cai Tipaldo.

Subs:

Kaleb Cox, Thomas Curran, Brendan Knowles, Anthony Woods, Riley Smith, Joshua Cairelli, Noah James.