Liaoning’s not the easiest place to play and even more so this season as they have put together a serious side. If they had a Riascos or Griffiths instead of Otto, they might be a serious title contender, but it’s the same old story, there are haves and have nots, and Liaoning is one of the league’s have nots.
The Men in Green started out slow, something that has tended to be a problem all year, and almost paid for it on more than one occassion in the first half hour of the match. Liaoning’s dangerous midfield pair of Yu Hanchao and Yang Xu After that, the defense settled down and while Liaoning’s buildup looked threatening from time to time, they typically were stopped by solid defending before they were able to take a shot.
I hate bitching about the referee, but when you’re denied a goal AND an obvious penalty due to godawful calls, its frustrating. When you have veteran players (Xu Yunlong, Xu Liang) taking to Sina’s Weibo and slamming the ref, you know he was beyond bad. The first time I watched Sina’s replay, I thought the video had paused as they spend about 5 seconds showing exactly where Martinez was on that free kick, while the angle and shadows make it hard to view, it looks like he was alongside the defender. No matter what you say about Martinez’s goal, there can be no arguing the penalty kick that wasn’t. The ball hit the defender’s hand in the box, his arm wasn’t even near his body, how the linesman missed it is simply beyond me.
Mind, the Men in Green don’t get off blaming it all on the ref. Martinez is able to make mindblowing plays, but failed to make the simple ones today. Xu Yunlong had probably the best scoring chance he’ll get this year in the final moments and he blew it with a weak shot. Shooting was a problem throughout, seems like Pacheco will need to work on that a little more in practice this week.
We’ve gotten so used to winning, we’ve forgotten this feeling, but its not all bad. The unbeaten streak stays intact, as does Yang Zhi’s shutout streak, now at 542 minutes in all competitions.
Away games in the Chinese Super League can be tough, especially when you run into bad officiating. Not leaving Shenyang with 3 points is slightly disappointing but, all things considered, it wasn’t a bad result. I said ahead of time I wanted at least 10 points from May, if they can beat Shenzhen this coming weekend, they’d have reached that mark. Anyways, it doesn’t matter whose on top in May, all that matters is we’re on top in November.