Shanghai Shenhua won their fourth home game on the trot at Hongkou stadium last night, comfortably sweeping aside Henan Jianye 2-0. (video highlights here)
The home side were looking to get back on track after two dissapointing recent results on the road – a 0-0 draw against Qingdao and a last-gasp 2-1 defeat to newly-promoted Chengdu last weekend.
However Shenhua were in full control throughout the match and got back into their stride when midfielder Jiang Kun scored with a great finish from the edge of the box in the 39th minute. He hit the ball first time after a nice lay-off, right into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Despite their domination, there were few other clear cut scoring opportunities in the first half.
The home side emerged in the second half and continued where they had left off. Just three minutes after the second-half began, a killer through ball cut the the Henan defence wide open. Shenhua’s Honduran import Emil Martínez did well to control the fast ball and dinked past a defender, held off the attentions of another before slotting the ball under the advancing keeper with a very neat finish to make it 2-0.
Later, young striker Gao Lin should have scored when the ball fell to him in the middle of the box, but with the keeper stranded and a lone defender on the line, he could only slice his shot onto the bar. Not long after Shenhua were awarded a penalty and Martinez marred an otherwise fine performance by blasting his kick over the bar.
With Shenhua in complete control, a the boisterous home crowd indulged in all manner of chanting against the unusually large travelling support – around 1,000 fans had made the journey down from Zhengzhou and surrounding Shaolin Temple country. Indeed, Shenhua’s resident brass band got the crowd on their feet with some rousing numbers and even took requests as the Blue Devils chanted out the names of songs to be played.
The game ended 2-0 and puts Shenhua in second place in the Chinese Super League table behind the surprise leaders from Xi’an, Shaanxi Baorong. It was another game however which the home side were expected to win, Henan were in China’s second division only two years ago. They have some of China’s most feverent football fans however – some angry confrontations outside Hongkou Stadium and a missle-throwing exchange with Shenhua fans before the game were evidence of that.
Shenhua’s next home game is against Wuhan on May 14, kick-off 7.45pm. Note that the match will take place at Yuanshen Stadium in Pudong – pop concert at Hongkou Football Stadium aparently.
Picture of Martinez celebrating his goal courtesy of Sinasports