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Chinese Super League

Sad Shenhua’s 11 game unbeaten run smashed by Guizhou

Guizhou Renhe 4 Shanghai Shenhua 2

CSL Round 27

  • Rafa Jordá 16,  Đulbić 38,  Zhang Chenglin 57, Shen Tianfeng 78′
  • Griffiths 63, Drogba 89

An unbeaten run stretching back over three months came to an abrupt halt for Shenhua as they crashed 4-2 away to Guizhou Renhe on Saturday afternoon.

The match was Dider Drogba’s first taste of defeat since he joined in July and also the 11th time in succession his side failed to return to Shanghai with three points.

Sergio Batista made one change from the starting XI which won in the last round against Henan – young defensive midfielder Zhang Kaimu was dropped, Yu Tao moved from defence to take Zhang’s place, and gangly defender Qiu Tianyi slotted in where Yu Tao was in the last match. There was still no place for Cao Yunding despite his scoring from the bench again last time round – he had to bear watching Jiang Kun start in place of him yet again.

Shenhua made the better start and Joel Griffiths forced a great save from home keeper Zhang Lie when he volleyed an Anelka cross at short-range in the 5th minute.  However just 10 minutes later Anelka was to undo all the good work he had done on the pitch in recent weeks when he was caught in possession in midfield by Spanish forward Rafa Jorda. A few swift passes later and Rafa was given the chance to hammer the ball into the net in the box and that is exactly what he did. 1-0.

Jorda was at the heart of the next goal in the 38th minute when his lobbed pass evaded both Shenhua centre halves, Qiu Tianyi and Dai Lin. The defensive pairing should have done much better, but Dino Dulbic was able to get on the end of the ball and slot it past Wang Dawei to put Guizhou 2-0 up. And that was the half time score.

Batista seemingly was displeased by this poor defending and brought on super-sub Cao Yunding at half time for defender Qiu Tianyi, with Yu Tao moving back into defence. Sadly this time bringing on Cao upset the tactical balance of the team and Shenhua looked much more shaky in the second half. It was no surprise in the 57th minute when Guizhuo extended their lead further – a great ball from Bosnian forward Zlatan Muslimović to the back post was volleyed right into the net first time by Zhang Chenglin for goal of the match. By this point Shenhua were in considerable disarray and staring at the end of their 11-match unbeaten run straight in the face.

The visitors managed to pick themselves up however, in the 64th minute a short corner saw Joel Griffiths head the ball into the net to claw one back. Shortly afterwards Shenhua hit the post from a Cao Yunding cross into the box when Moreno and Drogba both narrowly failed to connect. And just after that, Gio Moreno was guilty of a shocking miss from point black range when a cross fell at his feet but he somehow could only knock it wide when just a yard off the goal line.

The momentum was with Shenhua now, and in the 68th minute Shenhua were once again on the receiving end of poor officiating when Drogba was felled in the box by Zhang Chenglin. Check out the replay on PPTV for yourself – it was a penalty.

It was too late really however, and Shen Tianfeng wrapped up victory for Guizhou in the 78th minute, when he disposesesed the normally solid Dai Lin on the edge of the Shenhua box to slot the ball home. Drogba scored a last minute consolation for Shenhua by brilliantly taking down Jiang Kun’s hopeful forward pass at the edge of the six-yard area and nullifying the entire defence to leave a simple finish and make it 4-2.

The game was marred by some afters with Drogba appearing to be in some hand-shaking dispute with the referee, and Shenhua’s resident hot head Dai Lin giving it the big ‘un towards Guizhou keeper Zhang Lie in a dispute which rumbled on several minutes after the final whistle.

It changed nothing of course, Shenhua’s unbeaten run was over in what was always going to be a very tough away fixture – won 9 drawn 3 lost 2 is Guizhou’s home record. Shenhua were perhaps a tad unlucky not to add to their tally but poor defending was mostly to blame for this defeat combined with general disorganization all over the pitch in the second half.

Shenhua now have very little to play for going into the last three games of the season, local media proclaimed the defeat as being the end of the club’s ACL qualification hopes but in reality these had already been over for quite some time. Much work lies ahead for the men in blue if they are to mount a proper challenge for the title next year and with continuity and new faces coming and going all the time, the remaining three games should be used to prepare for next season if, as expected, Sergio Batista is still in the hot seat next season.

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.



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