New day, new match in Shanghai. This time it was Gustavo Poyets Shenhua who welcomed Fabio Cannavaros newly promoted Tianjin Quanjian. In focus, of course, Carlos Tevez. The Boca-signing got off to a great start to his Chinese adventure with a goal, and a hand in the other three, as Shenhua kicked off their league campaign with a 4-0 win against Jiangsu Suning, but there has been quite a bit of talk in the papers about the Argentine, just as at more or less every club he’s been, being unable to adapt to life in Shanghai as well as Chinese food. This has been denied by the strikers agent and the, as rumour would has it, highest paid footballer in the world shouldn’t have any trouble getting whatever food he desires in one of the most international cities in the world.
Other names on the team sheets that might be interesting to europeans: Fredy Guarín, Shenhua. Alexandre Pato and Axel Witsel, Quanjian.
Quanjian came out strong and the game had looked even when Shenhua should have been given a red card 20 minutes in. Pato was through alone with the goalkeeper on the half way line but the ball was knocked away by a hand just as it was about to reach him. Perhaps the referee remembered Quanjians last match, where Pato failed to score from no less than four one-on-ones in the 2-0 defeat to Guangzhou R&F, and didn’t think it was really a scoring opportunity. Only minutes later the home side were reduced to ten men anyway with Qin Sheng deliberately stomping Axel Witsels foot as Tevez was preparing to take a corner. Right after that Shenhua called for a sending off for Geuvanio from a mean kick, the yellow card looked sufficient from the replay, and it looked like a fight mike break out between the teams at any second. Unfortunately, not much else happened during the first, quite boring, 45 minutes of football.
Except for when Shenhua were awarded a free-kick in a decent position after about 20 minutes, even though advantage should have been played as they had a player in on goal, the second half was no less dull than the first one up until the final fifteen minutes of regular time. The ball reached Colombian midfielder Moreno, with a fair bit of luck, and he took struck it lovely with his left foot, the keeper did get a hand to it but was in no way near to stopping the shot as it made its way into the top corner to put the hosts ahead. Only five minutes later, Witsel, who should have been sent off in between the goals after a savage challenge including an elbow to the face, made it one all with a beautifully taken volley from a corner kick. Finally, Pato managed to, once again, make himself the scapegoat as he hammered it high above the crossbar from the spot after 87 minutes. Even though it was only fair, considering the penalty-call was a truly horrendous one for something the referee managed to intrepit as handball, it was hard not to feel sorry for Pato, as he was comforted by his teammates.
Both sides have set their aim high with prolific signings in the winter, but today they both looked well below the top teams. The draw was just, mostly because neither team deserved to win.