Shenhua slip-up in the rain

CSLShanghai Shenhua 2-2 Chongqing Lifan
Friday 16th September 2016
Hongkou Stadium

Shanghai Shenhua gave up a two-goal lead and two-points as they maintained their unbeaten home form on a wet Friday night.

Many fans braved the typhoon to support third placed, Shanghai Shenhua as they took on Chongqing Lifan – who sit ninth in the Chinese Super League (CSL).

A win for the home side would have seen Gregorio Manzano’s men pull clear of local rivals Shanghai SIPG in the race for top three and qualification for next season’s Asian Champions League – a tournament SIPG were eliminated from following their recent 5-0 defeat to South Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the quarter-finals.

After an opening of few opportunities, Lifan nearly took the lead when Brazilian forward, Alan Kardec, reacted quickest to a loose ball in Shenhua’s penalty area. Unfortunately for the away side, he could only hit the side netting having been forced too wide after rounding goalkeeper Li Shuai.

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Hongkou has been good to Shenhua this season, but it’s also been better than tonight.

With a quarter of the game gone, Moreno broke the deadlock to send the loyal supporters delirious. The Colombian’s strike from over 20-yards dipped and made use of the wet surface to deceive Deng Xiaofei in the Lifan goal.

Less than five minutes later, Fernandinho had a glorious chance to equalise after breaking the offside trap. The Brazilian winger lacked composure as he dragged his effort wide with just the keeper to beat.

After half an hour’s play, Lifan were made to pay for that miss when Cao Yunding doubled the home side’s advantage. The goal was created by Obafemi Martins’ brilliant disguised drag pass to put his Chinese teammate through for a first-time finish.

It could easily have been three when Moreno’s clever flick played Cao Yunding into the channel before cutting the ball back for Martins. The former Newcastle striker couldn’t keep his shot down as it sailed over the bar.

Despite Shenhua’s dominance after scoring their second, Lifan nearly got a goal back before half-time. Fernandinho tried to atone for his earlier miss but his clipped free-kick was tipped wide by Li Shuai.

Just eight-minutes after the break, Lifan did reduce the deficit when Wang Dong was on hand to tap-in from six-yards. The Shenhua defence was stretched and Chongqing were very much back in the game.

Both sides squandered opportunities on the counter-attack as the match became more open.

Shenhua’s Sheng Qin talked his way into the referee’s book and could easily have received a second yellow for simply not shutting up. It was a display of ill-discipline that is all too frequent in the CSL.

With just over ten minutes remaining, Fernandinho drew the sides level when he side-footed Kardec’s cross into the far corner.

Both of Lifan’s goal scorers had chances to complete the comeback. First, captain Wang Dong over hit his attempted lob when found in a great position while Fernandinho tested Li Shuai from the angle.

The referee blew for full-time and Shenhua should be disappointed by the lack of attempts created (nine) despite having more of the possession (55%). Failing to close out a game like this could be their undoing this season.

Credit to Lifan and their manager Chang Woe-Ryong who really made use of his half-time team talk. The Chongqing side doubled their first-half attempts at goal from five to ten while dominating the aerial duels and looking dangerous on the break, particularly down the right-flank.

manzanoManzano and Shenhua will be hoping they won’t be made to regret dropping these two-points. SIPG make the short trip to Hangzhou on Sunday knowing a win will see Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side return to third. This race, unlike the typhoon, has a long way to go yet.