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Shenhua slip-up in CSL title race

reds.jpgShanghai Shenhua slipped up in their quest for a third Chinese League title after throwing away two points against Chinese Super League new boys Henan last night, in their first home game for six weeks following the summer break.

A healthy midweek crowd at Yuanshen stadium in Pudong saw the home side take an early lead on 17 minutes via an own goal from Henan defender Zhang. Shenhua then proceeded to completely dominate the first half, save for one solitary long range effort from Henan which home goalkeeper Wang Dalei tipped over the bar.

However, the youngster’s inexperience surfaced just before half time when Henan’s Gambian striker, Arthur Gomez broke through the Shenhua defence following an incisive pass. The former Manchester United youth player kept his cool to slot the ball past Wang Dalei, who came off his line far too quicky and got caught in no mans land. Half time 1-1.

Shenhua huffed and puffed but made little headway in the second half. The game was marred on 65 minutes when former Everton defender Li Wei Feng, incensed that Henan did not knock the ball out of play to allow treatment for a Shenhua player suffering cramp, got imbroiled in a rumpus with Gomez. Both were shown the red card for their troubles.

The home side, fresh from their 2-1 defeat away to Shandong last weekend, knew dropping a point against a side which was in the Chinese second tier last year simply wasn’t good enough if they were to sustain a championship challenge. Henan, from Zhengzhou, second bottom in the league, tried every dirty trick in the book to waste as much time as possible to see the game out. Indeed, the Shenhua fans indulged in a rousing chant of Henan jiang ji!, (Henan drop a level) the equivalent of the popular UK terrace chant, “going down, going down, going down”, in a reference to their relegation candidates status.

Despite Shenhua’s urgency, they could not find a winner and dropped to sixth in the Chinese Super League table. However, they are only five points off the lead and this season’s title battle looks like it will go right to the wire.

Shenhua move into a cruicial phase of their campaign next month with three home games against Shenzhen, big rivals Dalian, and Liaoning FC. Their next home game is on September 1 against Shenzhen.

Photo from Sina Sports

This post was originally published on Shanghaiist.

UK trained journalist and long-time Chinese football observer Cameron Wilson has been writing about Chinese football for over a decade…

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