Shanghai teams turn attention to ACL

BOTH Shanghai teams are shifting focus to tomorrow's AFC Champions League ties after a "fair" derby on Saturday during which SIPG beat Greenland Shenhua 2-0.

BOTH Shanghai teams are shifting focus to tomorrow’s AFC Champions League ties after a “fair” derby on Saturday during which SIPG beat Greenland Shenhua 2-0 at Hongkou Football Stadium.

Hulk and Lu Wenjun scored in each half of the Chinese Super League match as SIPG went top of the standing with the full six points after two rounds, along with Shandong Luneng and Guangzhou R&F.

Shenhua is still waiting for its first victory in 2018, the team having already collected four draws in the ACL and the CSL before Saturday’s derby.

Despite the defeat, Shenhua head coach Wu Jingui said he was “generally happy with his players’ performance”.

“We showed our strength and skills, but came up short in the ability to seize opportunities. The players have a good attitude and I believe they can adjust to get ready for the AFC match in two days.”

The local coach had said before Saturday’s clash that the team had to decide its priority, which is the ACL, due to the packed schedule and player shortage caused by injuries. Apart from goalie Li Shuai, Shenhua was also missing midfielder Cao Yunding and defenders Bi Jinhao, Bai Jiajun and Li Jianbin.

Therefore, Wu had to rotate his squad for the derby, resting Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins and using Giovanni Moreno as the sole forward.

Despite overwhelming support from Shenhua’s home fans at Hongkou, SIPG proved the more dominant side. Hulk curled his shot into the top corner of Shenhua’s goal in the 27th minute. Lu enlarged the advantage in a counter attack eight minutes into the second half.

“It was an intense match,” SIPG manager Vitor Pereira said. “We used the same first-11 as the match against Ulsan (Hyundai in the AFC). We played the right way, intelligently and scored at the right time. We deserved the victory and it was a fair result for us.”

The Portuguese said the team would now “make some changes” when it takes on the K League side again at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium tomorrow, as the team needed some “refreshment”. SIPG currently tops Group F with seven points from three rounds.

Shenhua will welcome Suwon Samsung Bluewings at Hongkou tomorrow. The two sides drew 1-1 in their first meeting. Placing third with three points in Group H, Shenhua is eyeing a victory to retain its hope of advancing from the group stage.

Elsewhere in the CSL at the weekend, defending champion Guangzhou Evergrande thrashed Changchun Yatai 5-0 at home. Hebei China Fortune overcame hosts Guizhou Hengfeng 3-2. Tianjin Quanjian lost 1-2 to newcomer Beijing Renhe. Henan Jianye edged Tianjin Teda 1-0; and Fabio Capello’s Jiangsu Suning lost 1-2 at home to Beijing Guo’an.