The pressure was on Shanghai SIPG after Evergrande’s much expected three-pointer last night against Tianjin Teda. It was however an in-form Tianjin Quanjian who came to visit (although they’d nearly moved to Shanghai, staying and practicing in the city since Thursday’s FA-cup encounter between the two sides. The match three nights ago ended in a whopping 4-0 win for SIPG (securing a 4-3 aggregate win to proceed to the semi-final) but there was some rotation in the squads then and tonight’s event meant a clean slate. Apart from that breakdown, Quanjian have been looking strong, winning 5 out of their 6 latest matches in the Chinese Super League. During that time, even Pato has found his form, scoring 5 in the 5 he’s partaken in and getting his total tally up to 11 in 18. Au the contrary, SIPG has missed the opportunity to jump up to first place no less than three times and have secured only 4 points in as many matches. Therefore, it was a Fabio Cannavaro-led side with a positive outlook about the possibility to move within two points of SIPG, and six behind Evergrande. High hopes of a well-played and entertaining evening, but one that wouldn’t deliver as promised.
As expected, SIPG dominated possession but Quanjian looked ever dangerous and had it not been for a completely mishit pass by Pato, the visitors may well have gone in front after a quarter of an hour. On the other end, Wu Lei would’ve been in clear on goal at least twice after just over half an hour, had the China-international kept some sort of composure in his runs. By the end of 45 minutes, barely anything of interest had happened on the pitch and the double 0’s on the scoreboard told a fairly accurate story.
The second half looked much like the first one, although the possession stats had gradually evened out, it felt like most of Quanjian’s share was in their own half and they were still contempt to wait for openings and SIPG had a hard time finding ways through the low defensive line. After 82 minutes, Pato nearly stunned the home fans but headed wide from close to goal on a well hit cross from Mi Haolun but this match was destined to end in a goalles draw from the very first kick. The only ones happy with that are the respective sides competitors for title/ACL-spots.