Shanghai emerged as 2-1 victors last night when they hosted neighbouring province Jiangsu Suning in this all-Chinese encounter in the first knockout round of the Asian Champions League.
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Shanghai SIPG 2
Hulk 32′ (pen)
O. Ahmetov 45+1′
Jiangsu Suning 1
R. Martinez 8′
With Jiangsu performing so poorly in the league at the moment, Shanghai went into their first leg home game as favourites. However, after a very sloppy start by Shanghai it looked like it was going to be a frustrating Wednesday night for the fans.
Roger Martinez pounced to strike home from the edge of the box after defensive midfielder Cai Huikang failed to control the ball. This came shortly after a period of Jiangsu pressure, invited on themselves by Shanghai’s error prone defence, as Martinez had a one-on-one opportunity well saved by Yan Junling.
By half-time though Shanghai had turned it around, a miss-timed last-ditch tackle by Jiangsu centre half Li Ang brought Hulk down and he picked himself up to side foot the penalty under Sipeng Zhang; the Jiangsu keeper will perhaps be cursing himself for not getting a stronger hand to it. The comeback was complete in the last minute of added time as Hulk powered to the byline and crossed delightfully onto the waiting head of Uzbekistan’s captain Ofil Ahmedov.
The second half was a tight affair with both sides creating chances and some hard tackles which left Jiangsu lucky the finish the game with 11 men.
Both sides will be relatively pleased with the result, but perhaps Jiangsu more so. The away goal is very important and might be pivotal next week when Shanghai makes the short trip north for the second leg. With SIPG’s defence looking so exposed, especially against the quality of the likes of Teixeria and Ramires, they will most likely need take the game to Jiangsu and cancel out Jiangsu’s away goal rather than sit back and see out their one goal advantage.
So Wednesday 31 at 8pm the neutral football lover should definitely tune in for the second leg for a thrilling encounter.