In yet another embarrassing result, Shanghai Shenhua put in a pathetic performance as they suffered a 1-0 away defeat to bottom of the table Qingdao Jonoon on Sunday afternoon.
Recent signs of improvement under new boss Batista were completely absent as Qingdao outplayed the visitors for the entire match. Despite this, they still found it necessary to resort to cringe-inducing time-wasting tactics towards the end of the match – something which there was little need for considering Shenhua’s lack of ambition or drive.
Loser of this weeks game of musical chairs in the Shenhua line-up was centre-half Wang Lin, who filled in at left back. Everyone else seemed to be playing in their natural positions, more or less. Giovanni Moreno made his league debut in midfield, with Cao Yunding again on the bench. Anelka was the lone forward, and Qiu Tianyi in defence for suspended Dai Lin.
Right from the off Qingdao did not look like a side which were bottom of the league. They almost scored in the opening minutes when a corner bent in and hit Shenhua’s near post, but the danger subsided.
In the 15th minute, Qingdao forward Zhu Jianrong thought he had scored with a close range header directed downwards, but Wang Dalei pulled of a great save to stop the ball right on the line. And Zhu again had a chance to score with a header 15 minutes later, but he nodded the ball over the bar when he should have scored. Shenhua up until this point had looked lethargic and barely had an effort on goal.
Zhu Jianrong finaly got on the scoresheet however in the 28th minute, when a Qingdao attack resulted in Zhen Long putting a pass along the ground into the six yard box. The ball evaded Qiu Tianyi and Wang Lin, who had run too far forward, leaving Zhu with the simple task of stabbing the ball into the unguarded net.
Qingdao had the ball in the net a few minutes later, but it was ruled out for an infringement against Wang Dalei.
Half-time 1-0 Qingdao. It was a miserable first half performance from Shenhua. The second half offered no improvement.
Shenhua finally mustered a decent shot on goal in the 58th minute when Anelka got on the end of a long ball forward only to find Qingdao keeper Mou Pengfei sticking his foot in to clear the danger. The ball fell to Moreno who did well to get a shot in, but he couldn’t keep it down and it soared harmlessly over the bar.
The second half saw little in the way of exciting action, as Shenhua struggled to use the ball and Qingdao continued to look much more dangerous. Shenhua’s new signing from Dalian, 31-year-old former China international Yan Song came on in the 67th minute for Feng Renliang, but he couldn’t rise above the mediocrity of his team-mates and made little impression.
Shenhua had a good chance to equalize in the 85th minute when Qingdao keeper Mou went down under an aerial challenge with Moreno. The ball fell to Yu Tao who blasted the ball against one of four Qingdao defenders standing on the line. Predictably, the referee gave a foul against Moreno, and the Qingdao keeper stayed down injured for a full three minutes, in a shocking, but all to common, display of cheating.
Despite this three-minute delay, and several other lengthy stoppages for “injured” Qingdao players, the referee incredibly, and inexplicably, only added a mere 5 minutes of stoppage time. By your correspondents calculations, there should have been at least seven minutes, even that would have been a conservative amount. However, fakers and time-wasters exist because they now that referees never add-on the correct amount of time.
It was all in vain for Shenhua however, as no amount of injury time could have conjured a goal for a very sorry performance for the visitors, who concluded their worst ever first half of a league season in their 18 year history.
Shenhua’s performance in this match defies any meaningful analysis – the team displayed a general lack of effort and simply appear to not know what they are meant to be doing. After the match, boss Batista criticized the team for their lack of effort and quite rightly so.
Further reflection on such a pitiful performance is largely pointless. Shenhua start the second half of their CSL campaign with an away trip to Nanjing next Sunday to take on high-flying Jiangsu Sainty.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015