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Shenhua 0-2 Changchun: 20,000 Chinese Super Leagues under the sea…

Shenhua continued their rapid descent to the abyssal depths of the Chinese Super League last night with their seventh defeat in eight games. Since the start of July, Shenhua have lost every game except for a solitary home 1-1 draw again Liaoning on July 14 – how the Dongbei side must be kicking themselves that they didn’t also take maximum points from that match- because every other Chinese Super League side, be it top-ranked teams or relegation strugglers, have defeated Shenhua in the past two months.

However, let us not get carried away in abject misery just yet, Shenhua did in fact dominate the first half and should have gone in at half time at least one or two goals up. Despite Shenhua’s chronic lack of strength and depth in the squad, they opened the match in a style quite unlike a team which had not won in over eight ganes – they dominated proceedings massively. Shenhua played the slick and attacking brand of football which made them a top 4 side in the first half of the season.

Luis Salmeron come close in a few occasions, following his re-introduction to the side after a knee injury kept him out of the 2-0 defeat away to Shandong. He should have scored in the first half when a bouncing diagonal through ball from Juan Angulo landed in range for him, but it didn’t sit quite properly and he blasted his effort straight at the Changchun keeper. Feng Renliang and Wu Xi came close with long-range efforts, and Dai Lin’s forward ball was headed backwards towards goal by a Changchun defender – his effort hit the bar and bounced out – in other words,  inches away from an embarassing own-goal. Later, towards the end of the first half, Feng Renliang shot weakly from the edge of the box when he should have passed to an unmarked Luis Salmeron who was in an excellent scoring position in the six yard box. Half time, 0-0.

Yet another defeat: Blue Devil ultras vent their fury

Shenhua fans were encouraged by their side’s display in the first half. It was as good a performance as Shenhua had put in all season. But the second half was just eight minutes old when Changchun forward Zhang Wenzhao broke the deadlock with a magnificent shot from outside the area right into the top right corner of the net. This effort was probably Changchun’s only second or third shot on goal all game by that point – it knocked the stuffing out of Shenhua – the confidence of a team who have not won in eight games tends to be easy to destroy, and that is exactly what happened.

Changchun came into the game a lot more, and in the 70th minute, Changchun striker Zhang Wenzhao broke into the box past Wu Xi and Yu Tao, and, heading for the byline, he was tackled by Shenhua keeper Wang Dalei, who just got a foot to the ball first. However, Shenhua knew their luck was out when the referee didn’t see it that way and awarded a penalty. Wang Dong made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-0 to Changchun and that is how it finished.

It was an undeserved defeat. According to Chinese sport site 163.com’s match report, the stats for the match where as follows:

 

Shenhua Stat Changchun
0 Goals 2
14 Shots 7
6 On target 5
8 Off target 2
6 Long range shots 5
59.3% Possession 40.7%
14 Corners 2
7 Free kicks in opponents half 8
9 Free kicks in own half 12
19 Fouls 17
3 Offsides 1
79.1% Pass completion rate 73.6%
64.6% Headers won 58.5%
2 Yellow cards 4
0 Red cards 0

The stats tell a story by themselves. But at the end of the day, a team can’t blame bad luck alone for taking one point from 24.

Towards the end of the match, the mood on the Blue Devil’s north terrace was muted. That may not seem surprising to those reading who do not regularly attend matches. However, the Blue Devils, along with their  counterparts at the opposite end of the stadium, the Blue Boys, follow the way of the ultras very closely indeed – that means non-stop singing and chanting for the entire match. But this time, with ten minutes to go, some fans sat down and the terrace was in virtual silence. This is extremely unusual and a sign of how bad things are at Hongkou Stadium right now.

On the final whistle, the Shenhua players approached the north terrace for their ritual bow infront of the fans. However, they were met with a cacophany of hissing and booing, and were shooed away by the fans, as this TV broadcast shows. Your correspondent has only seen this once before in six years of watching Shenhua. The Hongkou side have now gone a record eight games without a win and lost four on the trot, and look like having their worst season since 2004 when they finished 10th out of 12 teams, only one point off bottom.

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

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Yiddo Huayi

    18/08/2011 at 11:05

    Is there anything happening behind the scenes in the Board room or with management? This is an incredible slide of form.

    (8 games, 1 point)

    You have some really tough looking games coming up – is it too late to bring in a new gaffer?

    • Anonymous

      18/08/2011 at 14:44

      New gaffer in place Yiddo, last season’s assistant boss, check the pub talk of last week. His hands are tied though. More coming on Shenhua’s crisis soon. Thanks for all your comments BTW.

  2. Yenster

    18/08/2011 at 16:26

    This was the first game I’ve caught under Shenhua’s new manager Dražen Besek, I was never a fan of the previous manager Xi Zhikang whose bizzare decision to play everyone out of position bugged the crap out of me, especially when there were already experienced players who did great last season dropped to the bench. I’m gonna give Besek the benefit of the doubt for this game because if they continue to play like they did in the first half they should get out of trouble soon. He’s however inherited a team low on confidence and without a proper defence and currently only one striker who hasn’t scored in awhile now. He’s got a lot of work to do change this season around and thankfully were not in a relegation battle just yet.

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