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Shenhua’s miserable two-year run continues as Harbin grab late point

A late penalty for Harbin denied Shanghai Shenhua a first victory outside of their home city for two years in a six-goal thriller yesterday afternoon.

Brazilian striker Dori scored a hat-trick for the home side to make the final score 3-3, who had been leading 2-1 before Shenhua scored twice in two minutes to take a 3-2 lead in the second half.


Harbin Yiteng 3
Dori 38′, 40′ 87′ (pen)

Shanghai Shenhua 3
Jiang Kun 39′, Gao Di 72′, Moreno 73′

The visitors started with Qiu Shenjiong again in goals having impressed in the previous round against Shandong whilst deputizing for Geng Xiaofeng who was unable to play against his former club whilst out on loan. Aging smoker Jiang Kun also started, replacing off-form Xu Liang who was benched. Luis Ruiz made a surprise return from injury, and Bai Jiajun found himself at leftback after a 3-game suspension.

The hosts brought in defender Wang Dalong and midfielder Bu Xin in an otherwise unchanged line-up from that which was defeated 3-1 away to Dongbei rivals Dalian Aerbin.

Both teams started out cautiously and the first clear cut chance didn’t come until after the half-hour mark when Luis Ruiz got on the end of Jiang Kun’s corner. His header bounced of the dry turf and evaded Harbin’s defence, but struck the bar was cleared.

Harbin’s response was to go right up the pitch and score. A long high pass from the right wing caught the Shenhua defence napping and put Dori in an excellent unmarked position. Qiu Shenjiong in the Shenhua goal had little choice but to come off his line, Dori expertly lobbed him from the edge of the box to find the net and open the scoring.

Shenhua Away victories lost in final minutes:

May 6, 2012 @ Liaoning – 90th minute equalizer, 1-1

June 1, 2013 @ Guizhou 90th minute equalizer, 2-2

July 31, 2013 @ Liaoning – 90th minute equalizer, 1-1

April 4, 2014 @ Changchun – 90th minute equalizer,  2-2

May 17, 2014 @ Harbin – 87th minute penalty equalizer, 3-3

Harbin’s joy was short-lived however, as Shenhua equalized just two minutes later from a most unlikely source. A failed Shenhua attack saw the home defence clear the ball to outside the edge of the box, where Jiang Kun was lurking unmarked. The elder statesman rolled back the years to drill an excellent low shot which flew just inside the Harbin near post and into the net – incredibly, this was Shenhua’s first goal from open play in six games.

After a fairly uneventful opening half hour, the goals were really starting to fly – just a minute later Harbin were back in the lead when a long ball to the back post found Li Jiahe. He fired a shot from close range right at Qiu Shenjiong who managed to block but not hold the ball. Li got a second bite at the cherry but fired the ball onto the bar, which bounced down near Doi who executed a nice overhead kick to score from barely a metre out. 2-1 Harbin the teams went in at half time.

Just three minutes after the kick-off, Harbin could have stretched their lead when a ball whipped into the far corner eluded Wang Changqing, a right-midfielder playing at right-back who had left two players unmarked at the back post. Dori narrowly missed out on his hat-trick by heading against the post before the rebound was knocked wide.

In the 57th minute, Gio Moreno headed narrowly over following a good cross from Jiang Kun, and 5 minutes later Gao Di had the ball in the net following a mini-scramble in the box, but his effort was correctly ruled offside.

Shenhua were pushing hard for an equalizer, but in the space of two minutes turned the game on its head with two goals in the 72, and 73rd minutes respectively. Gao Di scored the first, stabbling substitute Xu Liang’s freekick to the back post past Guo Chunquan in the Harbin goal. No sooner had Harbin dusted themselves off at having lost their lead for the second time, than they found themselves behind for the first time in the game. Gio Moreno rounding the keeper after latching onto Xu Liang’s  pass to do a 1-2 with Ruiz to leave Harbin’s defence trailing in his wake and make it 3-2.

Just when Shenhua had asserted themselves on the game, and were looking to break their long duck of having not won outside Shanghai since beating Dalian Shide in April 2012. But history and Wang Changqing would have it otherwise – three minutes from time the stand-in journeyman right-back carelessly brought down subsitute Li Xudong in the box with an awkward and unncessary challenge. Dori stepped up to complete his hat-trick and a hard-earned point for Harbin, 3-3 it finished.

Shenhua were doubtless frustrated to conceed a late equalizer in an away fixture yet again. Since their last win outside of Shanghai (meaning away derby victories against East Asia and Shenxin don’t count) over two years ago, they’ve surrendered leads in the closing stages of away fixtures no fewer than five times (see panel above) which seems like an alarming number.

However, Shenhua couldn’t really complain, Harbin deserved their point, even if the level of the team still appears to be that of a China League One side. That Shenhua’s most influential players were midfielders Xu Liang (32) and the much-maligned and physically past-it Jiang Kun (36) says a great deal about the standard of opposition they faced. Shenhua’s defence also had an off day – Paulo in particlar does not look like a player who turned out regularly for a top Brazilian side like Corinthians.

Both sides will not finish anywhere near the top of the table this 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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