Another ACL draw as Shenhua held at home

SHANGHAI Greenland Shenhua drew 2-2 with Sydney FC in their AFC Champions League match at Hongkou Football Stadium in Shanghai last night.

SHANGHAI Greenland Shenhua drew 2-2 with Sydney FC in their AFC Champions League match at Hongkou Football Stadium in Shanghai last night.

All four goals came in the first half with Obafemi Martins and Fredy Guarin scoring the opener and the final equalizer for Shenhua, respectively.

Shenhua was forced into an early substitution when midfielder Cao Yunding pulled a leg muscle during an attack five minutes into kickoff. He was replaced by Zhang Lu.

The Australian side made several early attempts, including a shot in the 23rd minute which hit Shenhua’s bar.

But it was the hosts who scored first. Li Yunqiu’s long pass found Martins in front of the Sydney goal. The Nigerian striker beat goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne for the opener in the 26th.

The visitors then scored twice in the next eight minutes.

Shenhua goalkeeper Li Shuai blocked a header by Bobo, but failed to stop a follow-up as Luke Wilkshire reacted the fastest to bury the ball in the net in the 28th.

A 34th-minute goal by striker Alex Brosque gave Sydney a 2-1 advantage. But Shenhua equalized within five minutes when Colombian Guarin’s shot from the top of the box in the 39th curved past Redmayne before falling into the net.

Sydney’s Brosque had a one-on-one chance against the Shenhua custodian in the 59th but his shot hit the side netting.

Despite goal attempts by both sides, including two close-range shots by Sydney’s Milos Ninkovic in the closing minutes, the scoreline did not change.

“We were not perfect in details today, leaving our opponents with lots of chances,” Shenhua defender Bai Jiajun said after the match.

“But we tried our best. We need to work out our position in the group clearly given the strong opponents.”

Strong opponents

Shenhua now lies third in Group H on two points, with Kashima Antlers leading on four points following the Japanese side’s 2-1 victory over South Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

Two goals from Mu Kanazaki put the eight-time Japanese champion in control at the home of the South Korean team after Dejan Damjanovic missed a first-half penalty for Suwon.

Cristovam da Silva pulled a goal back for Suwon with one minute remaining but Kashima took the three points.

Meanwhile, Fabio Cannavaro’s Guangzhou Evergrande was held to a goalless draw away to Cerezo Osaka in a Group G match.

The two-time AFC champion is also third in its group following two draws.

The big-spending Chinese Super League team won the continental title in 2013 and 2015 but under new coach Fabio Cannavaro is two points behind the Japanese team.

Guangzhou takes on Jeju United of South Korea in the next round of games in early March.

Jeju moved into second with a 2-0 win at Thailand champion Buriram United.

Only the top two teams from each of the eight groups of four progress to the ACL knockout stage.

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