Jiangsu Sainty 0 – 0 Vegalta Sendai
Asian Champions League group E
It was an emotional night in Nanjing as Jiangsu Sainty played their first ever home Asian Champions League match against Vegalta Sendai, though it turned out to be a 0-0 draw. The locals, almost 45,000 of them, added to the atmosphere on a very special night.
With political tension running high between China and Japan, as well as the match being played in a city that was ravaged by Japan’s aggression during the war, the buildup to the match was fraught with tension. However, once the two sides got onto the pitch, it was all about football, with the only minor incident during the match being when Jiangsu defender Ren Hang and a Japanese player collided on a header, the Japanese player went down, but Ren Hang continued his run up the field, until he was bowled over by a Sendai player.
To the actual match, Jiangsu dominated the chances on the night and were unlucky not to get more than a point out of the match. The few scoring opportunities Vegalta produced were insubstantial and they were by far the weaker team on the night. The best chance of the first half fell to Jiang Jiajun after a beautiful pass somehow found him all alone at the penalty spot, but his shot was deflected over the cross-bar.
On the other side of the half, a beautiful Liu Bofei free kick from outside the left side of the penalty box gave the keeper some troubles, but a foul was called on Jiangsu that killed what should have been their first goal of the night. Hamdi Salihi was brought on at the hour mark and he invigorated the attack, though a pass found him with nothing but space, going in alone on the keeper, but he held onto it for too long, allowing the keeper to make the save.
Jiangsu did themselves proud and though they currently sit at the bottom of the group, a draw in the other match between FC Seoul and Buriram United means that they still have plenty to play for. The pressure will be on when Buriram, who sit tied with Vegalta on two points, travel to Nanjing in two weeks time.
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