China keeper Wang Dalei sets up Graziano Pelle for last minute equaliser as Shandong Luneng chase Chinese Super League title
Tianjin Quanjian miss out on fourth win of the season after succumbing at the last to leave season hingeing on AFC Champions League
There was high drama when Shandong Luneng’s Italian striker Graziano Pelle hooked in a late equaliser against Tianjin Quanjian in the Chinese Super League on Saturday night.
And it was even more dramatic as the assist came from his own goalkeeper.
Custodian Wang Dalei came up for a corner as the game approached the 96th minute and won a header which the former Italy international controlled and hooked a volley past the desperate Tianjin Quanjian backline.
Pelle’s goal cancelled out Pato’s opener and earned the Shandong side a share of the points in Tianjin to see his side stay second behind Shanghai SIPG in the table on goal difference. SIPG drew 1-1 at bottom club Guizhou Zhicheng.
Both teams have 20 points from 10 games.
Wang has 26 caps for China, the last of which was against North Korea in the East Asian Football Federation Championships.
What is unusual is that rather than being a knockout game or the final day of the season, Wang went up to the opposition box during a regular season league game but such is the congestion at the top of the CSL table every point counts, even a third of the way into the campaign.
Pelle’s goal could prove vital if the title ends up back in Shandong, where it was last won in 2010
The former Shanghai Shenhua keeper is no stranger to making headlines, notably when a ballboy told him which way to dive to save a Saudi Arabian penalty in the AFC Asian Cup in 2015.
Wang joins a long list of goalkeepers contributing at the other end.
It is almost 20 years since Carlisle United’s Jimmy Glass scored the last minute goal to keep the club in the Football League while this year in Italy Benevento keeper Alberto Brignoli scored in the 95th minute against AC Milan to give his side their first point of the Serie A season.
More than 50 goalkeepers have registered assists in the English Premier League while Jorg Schmadtke provided an assist for Freiburg against Borussia Dortmund on the final day of the 1995-96 German Bundesliga season.
Unusually, he went from playing in goal to being used outfield when the club brought on their sub keeper to replace a central defender.
Schmadtke played in a shirt that was taped to match his squad number, a move that saw several Guangzhou Evergrande staff fined after doing the same thing in the AFC Champions League match against Tianjin Quanjian last week.
The second leg of the tie is in Guangzhou on Wednesday.