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Wasteful East Asia nullified by robust Chongqing FC

Wasteful finishing, inspired goal keeping and some terrible gamesmanship from both teams were all critical factors in Shanghai East Asia’s 0-0 draw with the visiting Chongqing FC on Saturday. The hosts remain five points clear of second place Wuhan Zull in China League One but it could and should have been so much more against a muscular but limited away side.

In a first half that veered wildly between highlight reel football and an exhibition of cynical tricks, Shanghai looked the stronger team. Wu Lei came very close to scoring with thirteen minutes played but he couldn’t direct Lv Wenjun’s beautiful floated cross past Teng Shangkun in the Chongqing goal before Zhen Zhengrong went even closer ten minutes later, but having run onto Wu’s delicately chipped ball, the East Asia midfielder’s powerfully struck shot was fantastically pushed away by Teng.

Yet for all of excellent technical play on display, there was also the embarrassing spectacle of East Asia’s shameful playacting and Wu especially ought to feel a bit embarrassed, especially after his obvious dive in the penalty box a few minutes from halftime. Chongqing were being undeniably rough with the more technically adept home team but any sympathy they could have got from the referee was negated by their tendency to wildly overact to any contact from the opposition.

East Asia continued to huff and puff after the interval and almost as soon as the game restarted, Teng was making top draw saves; firstly by tipping away Lv’s looping shot at full stretch before two minutes later instinctively saving Luis Carlos Cabezas’ close range effort.

With East Asia continuing to assert themselves, Chongqing began to lose patience and for a ten minute spell, the home side were effectively assaulted infront of their own fans. Chris Killen got things started by sparking a shoving match between the two teams after barging over Li Yunqiu and almost sending the right back into the advertisement boards before former Shanghai Shenhua midfielder Shen Longyuan and Ma Xiaolei got themselves in the referee’s book soon afterwards for equally cynical challenges on East Asia players.

Yet for all the physicality, the hosts still had their chances to score. Within five minutes of each other, both Wu and Cabezas should have finished off excellent crosses from Zhen and Lv respectively but neither could make the most out of their opportunities as both men sent their headers wide of Teng’s right-hand post.

The guests seemed happy to settle for a point from the opening minute of the game meaning East Asia, who needed a win to maintain their lengthy advantage at the top of the table, were laying siege to Chongqing goal for the final fifteen minutes. Wu hit the post from a free kick and saw another effort deflect off a defender and drift agonizingly away from goal, before Lv sent another free kick narrowly wide as the game drifted into injury time.

Chongqing seemed the happier of the two sides when the full-time whistle blew and their uncompromising treatment of the home side had clearly worked although East Asia still had no one to blame but themselves after some woeful second half finishing from Wu and Cabezas. More worryingly was the home side’s undignified habit of looking for penalties when they should have been more concerned with trying to get the ball in the net and hopefully this will be the last time Wu will attempt no less than three blatant dives in the same game (all of them being obvious simulations).

In other CL1 results, Tianjin lost 1-0 away to Fujian Smart Hero, Chongqing Lifan drew 2-2 at home with Guangdong Sunray Cave whilst Wuhan Zull won 2-1 and became the first team to beat Hunan Xiangtao in Changsha this season.

A passionate fan of the beautiful game, Andrew Crawford has lived a somewhat nomadic existance for the last few years that has involved stays in various corners of Africa, Asia and Europe. His most treasured footballing experiences are watching Hibernian beat Celtic 3-2 in front of a packed Easter Road during his university days and his time as the content writer for Nairobi City Stars, a Nairobi-based team based in the Kawangare slums who play in the Kenyan Premier League. A football polygamist, he always keeps an eye on the fortunes of the various teams who've stole his heart during his childhood and then subsequent manhood; Cambridge United, Ryman League's finest, Bury Town, Hibernian and Nairobi City Stars. Though recently arrived in Shanghai, he has already become addicted to the atmosphere at the Honkou and looks forward to watching his new team at every chance he gets. He is also runs and writes for sharkfinhoops.com, the only English-speaking website about the fortunes of the Shanghai Sharks basketball team. You should check that out as well.

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