Stadium ban sees Chinese Super League opener played out before empty stands

Following a dizzying close-season of multi-million dollar spending, the 2016 Chinese Super League season got off to a low-key start – and hardly anyone was there to see it.

Newly promoted Guizhou Zhicheng were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Liaoning Whowin amid the cavernous surroundings of the Guiyang Olympic Sports Center.

The 52,000-capacity stadium was closed to spectators due to a celebratory pitch invasion after the final game of last season, with the on-field shouts of both sets of players clearly audible throughout a forgettable spectacle.

Visitors Liaoning hit the front after 14 minutes, with captain James Chamanga converting from the spot after Guizhou's on-loan Guangzhou Evergrande defender Han Pengfei was harshly punished for a coming together with Australia international Robbie Kruse.

Experienced striker Nikica Jelavic provided Guizhou's main threat during the opening stages of the second half, glancing on to the roof of the net and shooting narrowly wide before he joined Chamanga in making no mistake from 12 yards – the former Rangers and Everton man having drawn a foul from Assani Lukimya.

Jelavic was at the heart of the action once more when Liaoning goalkeeper Shi Xiaotian inexplicably burst form his area to bring down the 31-year-old and earn a red card, although the hosts could not make their numerical advantage count.

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