Captain Moreno a hero in late Shenhua victory
A late goal by captain Geovanni Moreno helped Shanghai Greenland Shenhua to clinch their first victory of the season when beating Henan Jianye 2-1 in the third round of games in the Chinese Super League in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, yesterday.
Having tasted two bitter defeats to sit at the bottom of the table after the opening two round of games, Shenhua and new Spanish manager Quique Sanchez Flores were under a great deal of pressure prior to the away match.
Flores shuffled his pack from the side’s previous two fixtures and played with five defenders to tighten a leaky backyard. After a cautiously opening 45 minutes, Shenhua took the lead seven minutes after the break when Wang Wei found an unmarked Odion Ighalo in the Henan box. The Nigerian striker made no mistake in scoring.
But the hosts equalized in the 83rd minute when Shenhua defenders failed to clear their lines. Henan’s Feng Zhuoyi made use of the chaos in front of Shenhua’s goal and canceled out their lead.
But Shenhua captain Moreno stepped up to the plate, volleying Fredy Guarin’s assist past Henan goalkeeper Wu Yan for the decider in his 200th appearance for the club. It was also the Colombian’s 64th goal for Shenhua, equaling the record held by former national team striker Xie Hui.
Flores hailed his captain after the tight contest.
“We look forward to better performances from him this year,” he said. “It was a fierce match, as expected, and the team did not play very well at the beginning. But we slowly showed what we have and it was not an easy victory.”
Shenhua is now 11th in the 16-team standing on three points.City rival and CSL defending champion SIPG top the league together with Beijing Gu’an and Guangzhou Evergrande. All three team have took a maximum nine points from the first three rounds.
SIPG’s 2-1 away victory over Hebei China Fortune on Saturday was considered lucky though, as Hebei created more chances than the visitors but failed to convert them into goals. SIPG’s Brazilian midfielder Oscar missed the match due to an injury he picked up during training the day before. Regular striker Lu Wenjun was also absent due to injury.
The defending champion seemed to have lost control of the midfield and created only two attempts on target through the match, though both had been seized. Elkeson scored the opener nine minutes into the game, while Odil Ahmedov netted a second goal 10 minutes from time only minutes after Hebei had levelled the clash. Goalie Yan Junling also impressed during the clash.
“We are having too many injuries, and this was not the pace and coordination we wanted,” SIPG manager Vitor Pereira said after the match.
“But the result is all that matters and the three points.”
Pereira’s counterpart Chris Coleman found the result hard to accept, as his team created several attempts, but made two mistakes which cost them the game.
In other third round matches, Evergrande edged Dalian Yifang 1-0 in an away match on Saturday.
Beijing Guo’an overcame city rival Beijing Renhe 1-0 also on Saturday. Shandong Luneng beat Tianjin Tianhai 4-2 yesterday and lie fourth in the standing on seven points.