A Shanghai derby high on acrimony but low on quality was finally decided in SIPG’s favour by the game’s standout performer in the closing minutes. Hulk’s physicality makes him a fearsome asset in any fixture, but against a depleted Shenhua rearguard he was able to power past opponents with almost embarrassing ease – an approach which finally bore fruit with two minutes remaining.
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE
Shanghai Shenhua 1
Shanghai SIPG 3
Wu Lei 35′
Li Yunqiu (OG) 90’+2
The home side had battled hard throughout – and could point to chances of their own to win the match – but ultimately always looked short of their opponents’ quality. SIPG took the lead midway through the first half courtesy of a clinical strike from Wu Lei, capitalising on an awful defensive header from Li Jianbin – on paper Shenhua’s most experienced defender, but who was horribly exposed throughout, lucky not to see red for a string of uncontrolled challenges. The home side did strike back before half-time, however – a speculative punt upfield well won by Gio Moreno; his brave header taking two defenders out of the picture and leaving Obafemi Martins with a routine finish.
The second half became an increasingly fractious affair – Shenhua’s physical approach giving them the edge over a technically superior SIPG side seemingly less up for the fight. Neither side made good use of the free-kicks that became increasingly common, and the home team’s more direct approach looked to be the more effective – but with clear sights of goal being few and far between. Instead, with both sides evidently tiring, it was the visitors who struck – Hulk latching on to a cross that was untidyly despatched at the second attempt. The result was put beyond doubt in injury time, with an Oscar strike rebounding off the crossbar only to be diverted over the line by an unlucky Li Yunqiu. A match that was finely balanced with ten minutes to play ended with a scoreline that flattered the Champions League side.
This was Shenhua’s first home match since March, with a fire-damaged Hongkou stadium reopening in time for a fixture that’s firmly established as a season highlight. SIPG struggled for fluency and will be delighted to sneak the points – Shenhua will be disappointed to lose a close game on a long overdue return home.
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