A perplexing goalkeeping blunder from Shenhua’s Geng Xiaofeng cost the Shanghai side a vaulable three points away to Changchun Yatai and continued their miserable 8-year run of not having won a CSL match in the Dongbei city.
The visitors had twice led the match but a harmless-looking looping header from Rafael Coelho with literally seconds on the clock denied coach Sergio Batista a winning start in his first match back in the Shenhua hotseat.
Changchun Yatai 2
Shanghai Shenhua 2
Gao Di 43′
In an ironic twist of fate, Batista began his first stint as Shenhua boss at the very same place almost two years ago – an occasion on which Shenhua lost 2-0 and Cao Yunding the only player to feature in the starting XI that day and in yesterdays match. This time Shenhua would manage to get on the scoresheet however – not that surprising considering the slow, square-toed and useless Mattieu Mansett was Shenhua’s sole forward back in 2012.
Another shocking statistic dug up before the game showed Shenhua had not won outside of Shanghai for over 31 matches – their last such victory not away to Shenxin or East Asia was against a team that don’t even exist anymore – Dalian Shide, with the victory coming in April 2012.
The visitors looked undaunted however by all that and the match was not even 10 minutes old when Shenhua took the lead. Xu Liang took a bouncing ball in the middle of the park just outside the area and lobbed it carefully over Changchun’s backline to the oncoming Gao Di. The striker controlled it well but then fluffed his shot which was bobbling wide until Columbian striker Luis Ruiz slide in at the back post to score his first goal for his new club.
Changchun looked ruffled by the early setback and Shenhua took the initative to play some flowing stuff for a period. However the home side didn’t take too long to equalize – Montinegrian striker Fatos Beqiraj got the better of defender Cho Byung-Kuk to nod a corner into the path of team-mate Anzur Ismailov. The Uzbek defender made no mistake from close range to knock the ball into the net for the equalizer.
Both teams struggled on the hard and bouncy surface for the rest of the half, before Gio Moreno chested a ball into the path of on-rushing Cao Yunding. The Shanghainese playmaker controlled the ball and went on a forward run before releasing a nice through ball for Ruiz to latch onto in the penalty area. The Columbian’s path to goal was already blocked off so he squared it for an unmarked Gao Di, who took one touch before patiently slotting it home with a very cool finish.
In the second half Changchun came out looking to defend their proud unbeaten record against Shenhua at home, and in the 61st minute a low ball to the edge of the box found Li Xiaoting after Shenhua midfielder Xu Liang failed to control and clear. Li Xiaoting managed to fend off a challenge and get a shot in, but Geng Xiaofeng in the Shenhua goal was equal to the task.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015