LONDON: The New Year's day battle of the English Premier League’s two Chinese players ended even as Everton, with Li Tie, drew 2-2 at home with Sun Jihai’s Manchester City in a game watched on TV by 300 million fans in China.
And Manchester City boss Kevin Keegan hailed his wingback Jihai and Li Tie as the best players to come out of China afterwards.
The two players lived up to expectations with each of them having a hand in one of their team’s goals.
Li Tie laid the ball on for Tomasz Radzinski to claim Everton’s stoppage time equaliser. Sun Jihai provided the cross from which Marc-Vivien Foe had put City 2-1 up in the 82nd minute after Nicolas Anelka had cancelled out Steve Watson’s opener.
Keegan was full of admiration for both players.
“China is a major country with a lot of different people and languages but the one thing they do have in common is a love of football and I believe that we have their two best players playing in the Premiership,” he said.
“There may be players over there who have more skill and flair than them but in the Premiership that is not enough. You need to be strong.”
Everton boss David Moyes admitted he had been relieved to come away with a point.
“There is a sense of relief after getting something out of a game that seemed to be going away from us.
“There has been a bit of illness about with a bug going through the club. I’ve had it and so has Mark Pembridge but he decided he wanted to play today.
“Quite a few players were out of sorts but I thought we had weathered what Manchester City had thrown at us in the second half.
“They’ve kept it going and got a point. We’re getting nearer the magical 40 points. The good thing about us is we’re not losing.”
However Moyes saw more players go on the injured list. Defenders Joseph Yobo (knee) and Gary Naysmith (dead arm) and striker Kevin Campbell (ankle) needed treatment after the game.
Keegan added: “We played a lot of good football in the second half and created a lot of chances.
“We’re disappointed to get a draw against a team high in the table. That shows how far we have come and perhaps tells you how far we could go.”