Tianjin Teda hosted Jiangsu Sainty last Sunday night in a Chinese Super League match at TEDA Football Stadium. The game was evenly matched with both sides controlling the run of play at different stages, but neither were able to find the back of the net.
A win for Jiangsu would have placed them alone on top of the Chinese Super League table for the first time in club history, but the Nanjing club instead went home with a single point. Currently Jiangsu sits in third place with five points, tied with Liaoning Whowin and Guizhou Renhe, but Jiangsu holds a slight edge in goal differential. Tianjin was looking to rebound from last weeks 2-1 loss at Qingdao Jonoon, but the Jiangsu defense proved to be a tough nut to crack as the home side’s efforts on the offensive end went unrewarded.
The first thirty minutes of the match were rather uneventful with neither side generating any genuine scoring opportunities. Long ball was the name of the game up to that point, but both defenses easily thwarted these lackluster attempts.
With roughly ten minutes left in the first half Tianjin sprang to life and put Jiangsu into siege mode. In the 36th minute Tianjin midfielder Chen Tao brought a long pass under control at the top of the box. Squaring himself up he fired at the far post, but his shot was deflected and barely went wide for a corner kick. Two minutes later Tianjin almost scored again when a pass across the box found Sjoerd Ars who centered it to Chen, but Jiangsu keeper Deng Xiaofei came out to smother the ball.
The best chance for Jiangsu in the first half actually came from Tianjin defender Lucian Goian. The Romanian almost headed the ball into his own goal off a corner kick. I’m not sure exactly what he was trying to do, but the ball missed the far post by a matter of inches, leaving Goian looking rather dumbfounded.
Nine minutes into the second half Tianjin earned a free kick just outside the corner of the penalty area, but the chance was wasted when the delivery slowly sailed above the Tianjin players and was eventually headed out of bounds. In the 68th minute Bai Yuefeng of Tianjin took a shot from long range but curled it to the right of goal, although Deng Xiaofei appeared to have the post covered.
In the 77th minute Jiangsu thought they had scored the matches opening goal, only for offsides to be called. The visitors had earned a corner kick and after the ball bounced around it eventually found Jiangsu defender Ren Hang who took a shot on goal. Tianjin keeper Song Zhenyu got his hands on the ball but was unable to control it and three Jiangsu players were right there to knock the rebound in. Unfortunately all three of them were clearly offsides. Watching the replay I could only chuckle as it showed the trio of Jiangsu players being a yard or so offsides.
All of Jiangsu’s substitutions in the second half were offensive in nature, showing that manager Dragan Okuka was looking to take the full three points. These moves seemed to pay off as the final fifteen minutes of the match Jiangsu gained momentum and looked poised to earn their first road victory of the season, but Tianjin held firm and the final whistle blew with the scoreboard reading 0-0.
While the score may have indicated a snoozefest, the actual game did have it’s share of excitement, although the action on the pitch wasn’t nearly as exciting as the music on the highlight reel. That song seems more suitable for a Lord of the Ring film than a Chinese Super League match.