Chinese first for Espanyol's Wu Lei

Espanyol's Wu Lei has become the first Chinese player to score in the group stage of a senior men's UEFA competition.

Wu Lei struck in tonight's game between Espanyol and CSKA Moskva
Wu Lei struck in tonight's game between Espanyol and CSKA Moskva ©Getty Images

Wu Lei has become the first Chinese national to score in the group stage of a UEFA club competition, producing a fine finish in Espanyol's 2-0 victory at CSKA Moskva in the UEFA Europa League.

The 27-year-old made an angled run to meet a ball from team-mate Matías Vargas and dinked it over goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to put the Barcelona side ahead in Moscow. The 64-times capped former Shanghai SIPG forward is the first Chinese player to score in the competitive phase of one of UEFA's top competitions, though not the first Chinese national to have scored in a men's UEFA club competition.

Watch Wu Lei's historic strike in Moscow
Watch Wu Lei's historic strike in Moscow

That honour went to Sun Jihai, who registered for Manchester City in a UEFA Cup qualifier against The New Saints on 14 August 2003. It took another decade for a fellow countryman to match his achievement, Wang Chu striking in both legs for Luxembourg's Jeunesse Esch as they got the better of Finland's TPS Turku in a 2013/14 UEFA Europa League qualifier.

In addition to being China's first group stage scorer, Wu Lei matched two other national records tonight. Having already scored in qualifying for Espanyol, he is now level with Wang Chu as China's top scorer in UEFA club competitions, and his eighth appearance in a European game means he has also matched former PSV and Austria Wien man Sun Xiang's record for UEFA competition appearances.

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