Chinese handball players debut in Europe’s biggest club event

Wang Quan of China in an EHL match. /Photo from the official website of the Chinese Handball Association

Wang Quan of China in an EHL match. /Photo from the official website of the Chinese Handball Association

The European Men’s Handball Champions League had a historic moment when right-back Yao Xueyan and goalkeeper Wang Quan made their debuts in the continent’s top club tournament over the weekend. The duo are on loan at Zagreb and became the first Chinese players to feature in this competition during their side’s visit to Barcelona.

The Spanish fans give big ovations to Yao and Wang, who are now part of the defending champions of Croatia, a team with 98 years of history.

Barcelona scored the first five goals and were leading 16-9 when Yao entered the pitch for his first appearance for Zagreb at the end of the first half. The right-back’s historic debut made him the first Chinese player to feature in the European Champions League, but his first shot was easily saved by the home goalkeeper.

Midway through the second half, Wang was sent in to take over between the posts with the Croatian side trailing 26-17. The hosts quickly added a point, but Wang’s reflexes prevented them from turning around in the 49th minute, as Victor Tomas was denied by an outstretched arm from Wang, who was excited by the stoppage.

The Chinese shot-stopper continued to frustrate the hosts, giving Zagreb a chance to get back into the game. Despite contributions from Wang and Yao, Zagreb lost 32-23, but that didn’t take anything away from this historic moment.