CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 2
Shanghai Shenhua 1
Xu Liang 45′
Hangzhou Greentown 3
D. Angan 26′ 30′
Gilberto Macena 69′
A toxic atmosphere at Hongkou Stadium set the scene for a comfortable Hangzhou victory in a Yangtze Delta Derby, with an uninspired Shenhua never looking dangerous once Davy Claude Angan put the visitors in front.
Shenhua season ticket holders used their first home match to show dissent at the club’s rebranding, with the first 19 minutes taking place in an eerie orchestrated silence. Protest banners and stickers were confiscated by police on entry to the ground, and new owners Greenland bizarrely attempted to fill the vocal void by having 3,000 employees attend, all in suspiciously matching club colours. This section of home ‘fans’ were even segregated from the rest of the supporters, at least giving the substantial police presence something to do.
The opening period of silence ended up witnessing what was to be Shenhua’s best chance of the match – Gio Moreno going close within minutes, only to be thwarted by a poor first touch and a lack of assurance on his less-favoured right foot. From then on, Hangzhou’s forwards began to impose themselves on a shaky Shenhua rearguard, Angan notably imperious and showing he had the physicality to best Paulo Andre in particular. Shenhua saw plenty of the ball but were one-dimensional in their use of it – endless long balls to the diminutive Firas never looking likely to yield results.
The breakthrough came courtesy of a calamitous error from Xu Liang – hesitant on the ball while playing as last man, a tentative poke towards his own goal under pressure from Angan left the Ivory Coast striker with a clear run on goal. There was still much for him to do, but he finished cooly past Geng Xiaofang, enduring a difficult start to life in the Shenhua goal. It was 2-0 within minutes, a hesitant Shenhua defence failing to clear the ball as it bounced through a multitude of players before landing kindly for Angan to help himself to a second.
The half ended with a roused Shenhua briefly in the ascendance, and they grabbed a goal back courtesy of an inch-perfect Xu Liang set piece strike. Two half-time substitutions attempted to change the tide, with Cao Yunding and Ruiz introduced after impressive appearances against Shenzin, but to little effect – neither managing to stamp any authority on proceedings. Hangzhou wrapped up the points with twenty minutes to spare – an excellent counter-attack with Gilberto Macena running the ball from inside his own half to finish, and showing makeshift right-back Wang Changqing up for defensive naivety along the way.
All three Hangzhou goals were near-post finishes that ask questions of the new Shenhua keeper – Geng Xiaofang so far looking unimposing and unconvincing. Wang Dalei leaves a huge void in this Shenhua team, and miracle saves that became routine in seasons past will now make all the difference in a side that, on this evidence, will struggle to create much at the other end. Hangzhou, by contrast, can move on with confidence – Angan and Macena in particular look capable of causing problems in sterner tests to come.