Wu Lei acrobatically fires home for Espanyol during Wednesday's 1-1 La Liga draw with Celta Vigo in Barcelona. XINHUA
Wu Lei silenced the doubters after his second goal in La Liga ended a lean spell for the Chinese striker on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old has impressed with his all-round game in Spain's top flight since arriving at Espanyol from Shanghai SIPG in January, but forwards are ultimately judged on their strike rate.
With just one goal to his credit before Wednesday's visit by Celta Vigo, some had begun to wonder if the China international was up to the task.
On Wednesday there was no doubting Wu's class as he instantly proved a handful for the visitor, firing a sixth-minute close-range effort just wide.
He then broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute by latching onto a superb Marc Roca through-ball to smash home a volley at full stretch.
A 72nd-minute Maxi Gomez equalizer, however, earned Celta a point.
Wu, who led the Chinese Super League in scoring last season with SIPG, became the first Chinese player to score in La Liga in a 3-1 victory over Real Valladolid in March.
Wu continued to make key contributions in attack to help Espanyol move away from the relegation zone and into the mix for Europa League qualification, but the critics inevitably grew louder on social media as his goal drought dragged on.
The sniping has turned to praise, with topics related to Wu's latest tally viewed over 66 million times on Weibo as of Thursday afternoon.
"I'm still not satisfied because we did not win the game in the end," said Wu, whose team is ninth in La Liga, six points off the Europa League places (fifth to seventh) with just three games to play.
"We want to improve our ranking to enter the Europa League. Compared with my goal, I think a victory is more important.
"A perfect ending would have been victory. We still have a chance to reach the Europa League. As long as there's a little hope, we will try our best."
Wu is hopeful of finishing the season with a flourish.
"The second goal makes me more confident. I have been in the team for a while now, and I now have a better understanding with my teammates. We communicate better during the game and they understand my character," he said.
"The pass for my goal made the shot really comfortable. I was super excited when I got the chance. The local fans are very passionate. I feel I'm in a great Espanyol family."
Espanyol coach Rubi singled out Wu for special praise.
"Wu Lei had a marvelous game and contributed a lot to the defensive side," on the post on the club's Weibo account quoted Rubi.
"We should have scored a second but Celta is a strong team, so the draw is a fair result."