Shanghai’s women eased their way to a three goal lead before a farcical Shandong penalty, abrupt storms and bench clearing scuffles saw a chaotic end to the match.
CHINESE WOMEN’S SUPER LEAGUE
Shanghai Yung Park Changyuan 3
Xiao Yuyi 13′
Zhang Xin 22′
Tang Jiali 47′
Shandong Huangming 1
Li Ying 60′ Pen
In line with China’s often horror scheduling for football viewing, this 4pm Wednesday kick off meant the players were subjected to 28 degree heat and extreme humidity from the start.
After a disappointing home loss four days earlier, Shanghai looked to put that result behind them and took the initiative immediately.
The opening exchanges were dominated by Shanghai, Yan Jinjin and Tang Jiali took turns to sky the ball over the bar from close range while the defence was untroubled due to Miu Siwen dominating everything in the air in midfield.
Shandong’s defence was unable to handle the pressure from Zhang Xin, Tang Jiali and Xiao Yuyi and constantly gave up possession to them in dangerous positions. In the 13th minute the inevitable goal came as Xiao Yuyi toyed with her opponent on the edge of the 6 yard box before poking the opener into the net.
Shanghai didn’t let up after the goal and the pressing, passing and movement in the front third were exceptional against a helpless Shandong defence. It didn’t help Shandong’s ‘keeper Zhou Li unnecessarily caught an uncontested long ball a metre outside of the box. Luckily for Zhou and her teammates, Shanghai’s Yang Lina hit the resulting free kick straight at her and other than the yellow card, Zhou’s blushes were saved temporarily.
Two minutes after Zhou’s calamity, her defender Zhang Chengxue would create an even worse situation. Zhang’s weak back pass was easily cut out by Zhang Xin who was able to jink past Zhou on the byline and walk the ball into the net herself.
Shanghai were extremely comfortable as Shandong offered very little in the way of possession or attacking intent. Shanghai ‘keeper, Zhao Lina’s first touch came only after 35 minutes when Shandong finally forced a corner.
Half time arrived with Shanghai cruising and the heat and humidity still a factor, the ladies of Shanghai spent a chunk of the break delivering bottles of water to their families and friends in the crowd.
Shandong made two half time changes but it changed nothing in the immediate flow of the match. Shanghai broke through again after just 3 minutes after a great through ball by Xiao Yuyi and a tidy finish from Tang Jiali.
On a very rare Shandong foray into the box, Shanghai defender Li Jiayue was adjudged to have fouled her opponent. It was as soft a penalty as you will ever see and I have extreme doubts that it would have been called in a tight contest. Wang Tingting stepped up and duly converted, Zhao Lina having to pull the ball out of the net without having yet been forced in to a save. It was 3-1, but it flattered Shandong who had produced very little for the first hour of the match.
Conceding the penalty did little to stem the flow of Shanghai attacks and the best chances fell to Yan Jinjin who missed on both occasions and was replaced shortly after.
There was no change to the script until all Hell broke loose in the final five minutes. A storm broke out and instantly made sure the bright, hot and humid environment brought darkness, wind and torrential rain.
The floodlights were switched on so the players could still see, further reason to question the workday early kick off time. After the first hearty challenge in the wet, a Shanghai staff member ran on to the pitch to confront the Shandong player before making a quick escape and watching the resulting bench clearing scuffle from his original seat on the bench.
Once the dust settled on that incident and the players looked to continue the match, a Shandong staff member took exception to some comments from the parochial home supporters, needed restraining by his staff before the game could eventually restart.
With less than a minute remaining, a Shandong manager thought it a great idea to inflame the situation further and when there was a confrontation between two players he stepped onto the pitch and chested up to the Shanghai player. Benches were cleared for a second time as male staff from both sides lost their minds.
The referee allowed play to restart briefly before calling full time and running straight out of the rain and down the tunnel. The players skipped their customary on field handshakes to flee the rain or due to the recent animosity, or both and escaped immediately on their team buses.
After all of that, Shanghai’s solid win sent them into a logjam with three other clubs with 7 points from the first 4 matches. A short turn around this week has them hosting Tianjin on Saturday while Shandong will hope for a much improved performance and a sharp turn in fortune against 3rd placed Changchun.
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