Shuttlecock and Balls

Shanghai Shenhua 2-1 Liaoning Shenyang Hongyun
Saturday 20th August 2016
Hongkou Stadium

Shanghai Shenhua maintained their unbeaten home league form and chase for Asian Champions League qualification with another win at the Hongkou Stadium.

There were few chances of note until Shenhua’s Cao Yunding curled just wide of the far-post in the 25th minute.

Michael Thwaite

Thwart during his days representing Australia.

But three minutes later, Liaoning – who started the weekend in 11th place – took a surprise lead when Michael Thwaite capitalised on some poor marking to head into the far corner.

Just after half an hour, Liaoning could have been two to the good. Sun Shilin should have doubled his side’s advantage but was thwarted by Li Shuai’s smothering save.

Fredy Guarin tried to cancel out Thwaite’s opener with an acrobatic volley following a near-post flick on but the Colombian’s effort sailed high and wide.

However, the home side did find an equaliser in the 43rd minute when captain Giovanni Moreno beat Shi Xiaotian at his near post from outside the area. The Liaoning keeper’s positioning was poor but the Hongkou faithful didn’t care.

Half-time arrived with the scores level at one apiece.

China’s Lin Dan was drawing one set all with Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen during the tightly contested bronze decider at the Rio Olympics.

That’s right, at half-time, Shanghai TV decided to suspend broadcasting of the football in preference of the badminton’s medal matches. It wouldn’t be too difficult to accept given the sport’s popularity had the same coverage not been on CCTV 5, a channel that can be accessed by all Chinese viewers. If, like me, you don’t really care about the badminton results, skip the next two paragraphs.

Lin Dan

Lin Dan was unable to repeat his success from Beijing and London at the Rio Olympics, not that I was interested.

The men’s singles match ended with Axelsen defeating Lin Dan – holder of the last two Olympic titles – to claim bronze with a 21-17 final set victory. I, meanwhile, sat baffled by the situation with Stoke City v Man City on my tablet.

Chinese pride was restored when Chen Long beat Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei in straight sets, 21-18, 21-18. His success made it four men’s singles gold medals from the last five Olympics for China.

During the final, viewers were treated to an interruption that revealed Obafemi Martins had continued his rich vein of form to give Shenhua the lead. The Nigerian forward made it five from his last five league appearances with a close-range header. The 80th minute goal, which turned out to be the winner – an assumption made on the basis that there were no further disruptions during the badminton – was largely due to Cao Yunding’s dangerous cross into the box.

manzano

Manzano is making the Hongkou Stadium quite the fortress.

This victory saw Gregorio Manzano’s side consolidate their place in the CSL’s top three as one of their closest rivals, Hebei lost to Henan over the weekend.

Next up for Shanghai Shenhua is a difficult trip to 6th placed Guangzhou R&F on Sunday 11th September.

You’d hope a country and government trying to promote football would ensure that there’d be no racquet-based interludes for the remaining seven rounds of league matches.

CSL Results:
Shanghai SIPG 4-1 Shijiazhuang Ever Bright
Guangzhou Evergrande 0-0 Hangzhou Greentown
Tianjin Teda 1-4 Shandong Luneng
Shanghai Shenhua 2-1 Liaoning Shenyang
Jiangsu Suning 2-1 Beijing Guoan
Henan Jianye 1-0 Hebei China Fortune
Chongqing Lifan 4-5 Guangzhou R&F
Changchun Yutai 1-0 Yanbian Fude