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Qingdao 0-1 Shandong: Luneng Win Inter-Province Derby

Shandong Luneng scored early and held off a persistent Qingdao Jonoon to win 1-0 last Friday night at Qingdao Tiantai Stadium.

The lone goal came from former Schalke 04 striker Hao Junmin and it marked his first goal since returning to China and it was enough to give Shandong their first win of the season while Qingdao droped its second straight match.

Shandong province is located on the east cost of China just south of Tianjin and the capital Beijing. Sitting at the mouth of the yellow river the province is known for its religious sites and one of Chinas most popular beers, Tsingtao. To a lesser extent Shandong is also known for its soccer teams, with both Shandong Luneng and Qingdao Jonoon calling the province home. Since the inception of the Chinese Super Leagues in 2004 Shandong has been the only province to harbor two clubs in each of the nine Chinese Super League seasons.

The Shandong derby would be a more marquee event in Chinese soccer if the history weren’t so one sided. Shandong Luneng has won three CLS titles, more than any other club, and has never finished worse than fifth in the league. Qingdao on the other hand has never finished higher than sixth, while finishing one spot above the relegation zone on two occasions. At the start of the 2012 Chinese Super League season Shandong held the advantage in the series with nine wins to Qingdao’s three with four draws between the two.

Last Friday evening marked the 17th meeting in the Chinese Super League between these two rivals. Shandong got off to an early lead as Chinese international Hao Junmin notched his first goal of the season in the third minute. Defender Wang Tong was pressing the attack in the center of the field when a heavy touch knocked the ball too far in front of him. Wang would probably say it was a pass as the ball found Hao directly in front of the goal who blasted it by Qingdao keeper Liu Zhenli.

Five minutes later Qingdao came inches from leveling the match when Zheng Long hit the crossbar on a free kick. The 23-year old midfielder curled the ball up and over the wall but was unable to get enough dip, although after watching the replay it appears the ball might have been slightly deflected off a players head.

Pressure continued to mount on the Shandong defense as Qingdao barely missed a second scoring opportunity in the 11th minute. Defender Li Peng got his head on the end of a cross in the box just ahead of Shandong keeper Geng Xiaofeng. The two collided and Li’s header bounced just wide of the open goal.

In the 21st minute Qingdao squandered their best chance of the match as Geng Xiaofeng came up with a huge save directly in front of the goal. Qingdao defender Wei Renjie crossed the ball into the penalty box where his Uzbek teammate Aziz Ibrahimov took a shot on goal. Ibrahimov’s shot went directly into a Shandong player, but the rebound didn’t go far and Qingdao captain Liu Jian found the ball and took a shot only a few yards out with just the keeper to beat. What looked like a sure goal turned into a fantastic save Geng used his feet to block Liu’s shot. Liu could have done better with his shot placement but you have to give credit to Geng for keeping Qingdao off the scoreboard.

After a near miss by Shandong in the 42nd minute Qingdao went on the counter attack. Zheng Long did well to get by two Shandong players and into box. Roda Antar of Shandong came at Zheng from the side and appeared to knock him over, but the ref decided there wasn’t enough contact to warrant a penalty kick.

Three minutes into the second half Shandong earned a free kick just outside the box. Defender Yuan Weiwei opted to take the kick. Yuan shot the ball around the wall but it went just wide of the goal.

Throughout the second half Qingdao continued to pressure Shandong but the home side was unable to create any decent scoring chances. When the referee blew the final whistle the Shandong players and their fans must have blown a sigh of relief. The visitors were outshot by Qingdao 17-10 and Qingdao held a large lead in terms of possession, 60% to Shandong’s 40%. Despite the stats favoring Qingdao it was the visitors who came out on top.

After being born and raised in Seattle, Kenneth came to Jiangsu in 2008. His first CSL match came back in 2009 when Jiangsu Sainty faced Shanghai Shenhua on the road. Despite going to the match as a neutral observer, the passion and heart displayed by the visitors turned Kenneth into a Jiangsu supporter.

For the past two seasons Kenneth has been a season ticket holder for Jiangsu and been a regular with the main supporter group 12th player. Besides going to every home match he also tries to make it to away matches that can be made in a day or two (Shanghai, Hangzhou, Henan, etc.)

The other club Kenneth follows is his hometown team Seattle Sounders FC. Supporting your local club is something he believes in strongly and constantly tries to convince skeptics both in Nanjing and Seattle that there’s nothing better than following your hometown team through the thick and the thin.

Unlike the other contributors to this blog Kenneth does not have a solid understanding of the local language. His posts will mostly be geared towards what he knows best, Jiangsu Sainty.

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