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Pitch invader steals the show at Hongkou Stadium

Last year’s Shenhua v Tianjin fixture was one of the best games of football Shanghaiist had seen for years (youtube highlights) and once again the teams did not dissapoint when they met again last night.

All manner of entertainment was on offer during Shenhua’s 2-1 victory, not least of which an amusing incident in which a fan invaded the pitch, seemingly to lecture Hamilton Ricard on his finishing. Confusion reigned as the middle-aged looking man appeared from nowhere and stood in front of the Columbian striker. The crowd looked on in disbelief, including security personnel who took what seemed like an age to work out what was going on. Then, someone from the Shenhua bench, wearing a club tracksuit, ran onto the pitch and unceremoniously knocked the man to the ground, before dragging him off the pitch, his backside skidding on the wet turf. Cue bemused looks all around.

Earlier, Tianjin had keeper Yang Jun to thank for keeping the scoreline blank at half-time, and Shenhua squandered even more chances after the break. Tianjin scored very much against the run of play in the 66th minute after some sloppy defending. But super-sub Gao Lin (he of QPR rumpus fame) stooped to knock in a cross at the far post to equalize with 15 minutes left on the clock, before scoring the winner five minutes later with a cool finish after Tianjin failed to clear their lines (video highlights).

It was another solid performance from Shenhua, who in past seasons have started very sluggishly but have made it six points out of six so far.

After the match, we were very dissapointed by the farcial public transportation situation around Hongkou. According to the excellent, the last line 8 metro train heading south to people’s square is at the absurdly early time of 9.24pm. No chance of catching that, the game ended some 20 minutes later. With our intended destination Changshu Lu on line 1, we tried to get to the line 3 station which runs until around 10.30pm. However it was impossible to reach, the central reservation of the road underneath it now has a high fence preventing any would-be jaywalkers crossing to the other side, whilst above, and the doors to the metro station at the end of the overhead walkways were sealed shut. One can only make wild guesses as to why it was necessary to make everyone take a rather lengthy detour. We eventually found a taxi, not easy at the best of times in Shanghai but add rain and over 10,000 people just out of a football stadium into the equation and it adds up to a long wait.

Shenhua’s next home game is on April 16 against Changsha.

This post was originally published on Shanghaiist.

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.

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