Shanghai East Asia 1-1 Guangzhou Evergrande
Chinese Super League round 29
McBreen 89′; Feng Junyan 62′
It took a goal right at the end of normal time for the home side to equalise, but in truth it was a second string Guangzhou Evergrande side who were lucky to escape this fixture with a share of the points, having only managed two shots all game.
Lippi and the entire first team from the ACL final match last Saturday stayed behind in Guangdong as assistant mananger Massimiliano Maddaloni tried to inspire a mixture of first-choice substitutes, hopeful youngsters, and lost causes to show what they could do against one of the league’s most promising squads.
With nothing much to play for though, both sides mostly ran through the motions in a spectacle that was as miserable as the sodden conditions for the first hour. At least Shanghai managed to threaten their opponents’ goal from time to time, even if their attacking edge was quite blunt.
By contrast Evergrande never looked at all like scoring, a couple of vaguely rousing Yang Chaosheng dribbles into the box close to the break excepted. Feng Renliang did receive the ball in a good shooting position at one stage, but seemed to just freeze until someone took it off him; it’s tragic the depths this man’s confidence has sunk to.
Wu Lei, Cabezas, and half-time substitute Zhu Zhenrong all missed very presentable chances to put East Asia ahead before Feng Junyan opened the scoring with half an hour left to play. The away team’s captain had been very wasteful with his crossing from the wing in the first half, but fared better playing more centrally after Huang Jiaqiang came on. Yang slipped while attacking up the right side of the box, and it was Huang who picked up the loose ball and cut it back for Feng to claim his nineteenth league goal in eleven years at the club.
Wu Lei seemed to single-handedly up the tempo of the game as he inspired Shanghai to rally, but despite combining well with Cuai Huikang and Daniel McBreen a number of times nothing was coming off. With the sprightlier Shewket Yalqun on for Feng Renliang, Guangzhou’s counter attacks had a bit more menace about them, and it began to look like East Asia would be left to rue their bad luck.
Then with injury time looming, McBreen powerfully headed down a lovely lofted cross to the far post from the impressive Zhu Zhenrong for his first goal for East Asia in three months and his third in total since joining on a short-term loan a month earlier.
Breaking his duck must have felt particularly sweet against Evergrande, the veteran Australian having been part of the Central Coast Mariners side beaten 5-1 on aggregate by the Chinese champions in the first knockout stage of the ACL back in May. His loan period expired, the striker now heads back to the 2013 A-League champions, who have made a quiet start to their new domestic season.
With the re-energised home crowd roaring them on, Shanghai spent the four minutes of injury time pressing hard for the winner. Wu headed just wide less than a minute after McBreen’s goal, and another couple of shots went close before the whistle finally blew.
East Asia’s final match of the season on Sunday afternoon could see them play a pivotal role in the relegation battle as they travel to Nanjing to take on Jiangsy Sainty, who would secure CSL football for another year with a draw.
At the same time Guangzhou face one more dead rubber at home against long-since relegated Wuhan Zaal, before getting down to preparing for the second leg of the ACL final the following weekend, and the FA Cup semi-final games against Beijing Guoan to follow that.
Shanghai East Asia: 1 Liu Yang; 2 Li Yunqiu, 21 Cuadrado, 25 Addo, 4 Wang Shenchao; 6 Cuai Huikang, 7 Wu Lei, 11 Fu Huan, 15 Lin Chuangyi; 36 McBreen, 9 Cabezas
Subs: 22 Sun Le, 10 Zhu Zhenrong (for 15 Lin Chuangyi 46′), 13 Zheng Dalun (for 9 Cabezas 67′), 3 Wu Yuyin, 14 Ibini-Isei, 18 Sun Kai
Guangzhou Evergrande: 22 Li Shuai; 3 Yi Teng, 4 Zhao Peng, 31 Zhang Hongnan; 8 Qin Sheng, 33 Rong Hao, 7 Feng Junyan, 37 Zhao Xuri, 2 Liao Lisheng; 14 Feng Renliang, 30 Yang Chaosheng
Subs: 36 Fang Jingqi, 21 Huang Jiaqiang (for 4 Zhao Peng 46′), 35 Shewket Yalqun (for 14 Feng Renliang 60′), 34 Hu Weiwei (for 31 Zhang Hongnan 70′), 20 Ni Bo, 23 Li Zhilang, 26 Li Bin