Chinese star ‘thrilled’ after recall yields vital goal for relegation-haunted club

Chinese ace Wu Lei reminded everyone of his quality with a typical poacher’s goal as he impressed with a man-of-the-match performance on his return to Espanyol’s starting XI on Sunday.

Wu had started his team’s previous seven La Liga games on the bench but seized his chance to shine after record signing Raul de Tomas was ruled out through injury.

Former Shanghai SIPG star Wu instinctually pounced on a hopeful punt forward after outmuscling his marker before applying a clinical 50th-minute finish to give Espanyol a 2-1 lead in Seville.

A late Suso equalizer denied the visitor what would have been a huge three points in its fight for La Liga survival. However, one point away at fifth-placed Sevilla was nonetheless an encouraging result for the Barcelona-based side, while Wu’s return to scoring form was a lift for both his team and Chinese fans back home who closely follow his progress in Spain’s top flight.

Content related to Wu’s strike generated over 700 million views on Weibo by Monday morning, with many fans urging Espanyol to restore Wu as a regular starter for the remainder of the campaign.

“I’m also thrilled. The goal is significant to the team and myself,” said Wu, whose team remains bottom of La Liga, level on points with Leganes and two points from safety.

“In such a difficult situation, we finally got this one point. We are now more confident. I hope we can have more wins in the future.”

The 28-year-old China international later wrote on his personal Weibo account:”This was a very difficult match, but we played as a very united team. Each point we get now will be significant for us to avoid being relegated. This goal means good luck to me, and I want to share this with all the people who are in tough situations. I believe everything can get better and better.”

Wu has racked up numerous milestones during his time in Spain, including a historic goal in the Catalan derby against Barcelona last month. However, his La Liga career has undoubtedly been a bumpy ride.

His arrival last year helped steer Espanyol away from the relegation zone but, despite going on to qualify for the Europa League, the club has since struggled for stability.

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