Qingdao scored a quickfire double in the 83rd and 92nd minutes of the match to snatch victory at the death and consign luckless Shanghai Shenhua to a third consecutive defeat, on Sunday afternoon.
Despite a reasonably solid away match performance, and Feng Renliang’s cracking opening goal in the 16th minute, Qingdao produced a stunning fightback with two goals both scored from corners in the closing stages.
Unfortunately your correspondent didn’t witness this game on TV, so there’s little to add about the game itself. However, there’s much to say about the circumstances surrounding this latest episode in Shenhua’s dramatic loss of form. Just last week on we discussed a sense of deja vu for the Hongkou side as they suffered a heavy away defeat to Beijing, and and embarrassing lowly one to Nanchang, for the second year running. And now, in addition to conceding an injury-time goal to Qingdao for the second time this season, Shenhua are following yet another well-worn script, in something of a seasonal downturn.
Shenhua historically struggle in the summer months, so much so that domestic media even has a specific term for this 夏季综合症 (xiaji zonghezheng) or Summer Syndrome. This year the turnaround in fortunes this summer been especially pronounced. Since June, Shenhua have won two games and lost four – which is closer to relegation form than a championship-winning run.
According to domestic sports media, this is the first time in Shenhua’s history that they have lost three league matches in a row. Not that surprising a statistic when you consider that Shenhua have won the Chinese league twice, been runners up eight times, and only finished outside the top five on two occasions. This time, its fair to say luck has not been on the boys in blue’s side, but this wretched run of form has all but eliminated any championship challenge from Shenhua this year – they are now fourteen points behind leaders Guangzhou in sixth place.
It’s a disappointing conclusion to reach at only the half-way point in the season, but realistically Shenhua are now battling for an ACL place only, and even that may be beyond them if they don’t arrest this morale-killing slide against Liaoning at home on Thursday.