Many of the players in the Johor Darul Ta'zim team as well as the millions of Malaysians watching at home, the sight of Marouane Fellaini would have been a familiar one. Having spent stages of his career in the English Premier League with first Everton then Manchester United, the lanky Belgian was a very recognisable figure.
No longer spotting the massive afro hairdo, Fellaini's presence still provides an unmistakable presence on the pitch. Showing his adaptability which is a main reason he's been a favourite of both David Moyes and Jose Mourinho in recent times, Fellaini was a different level to what JDT is used to.
Spending the earlier part of the match in more attacking positions, Fellaini is never one to shy away from his physical prowess as is shown by his strength in holding of La'Vere Corbin-Ong before nodding in the first goal of the game midway through the first half.
"I think it was a big game for us and we got the three points, and that’s the most important thing. I think we played some good football and created some good chances. It’s always a pleasure to score a goal but for me the most important is the three points and to win the game."
"We scored just two goals but we had some chances to score more. Okay, the opponent was good in possession, but we kept the shape and we fight. And in the end, we had the result we wanted, so I think it was a good game for us," said Fellaini after the match.
With a two-goal lead Shandong took their foot off the pedal and JDT started to push more into attacking positions. Fellaini was able to revert to a more orthodox defensive midfielder to help shield his defence. Even though Shandong conceded to JDT, there was little they could do to stop Safawi Rasid's wonder strike.
The 2-1 win is Fellaini first with Shandong in the AFC Champions League this season after two initial draws against Gyeongnam FC and Kashima Antlers. Their next game in Group E is the reverse encounter against JDT where Fellaini and co will be visiting Johor Bahru.
Off the mark on his first Chinese Super League match last month and now coupled with his first in the ACL, it looks like the former Belgium international has finally adapted to life in China being on the star players in the country.
"With regards adapting to the move here, everyone helps me – the coach, the staff, the team, the translator, the club. So for me that’s the most important, it’s my adaptation. I am happy here. I am happy with my team-mates, with the club, so I enjoy it."
Follow Goal Malaysia on Instagram