More than 30,000 fans crammed into Hongkou Stadium on Thursday night to witness the Shanghai football derby, but went home disappointed after a dull 0-0 draw. (So dull we didn’t get around to writing about it until today.)
Pre match shenanigans between the teams had piqued the public’s interest in the clash between Shenhua FC and Shanghai Liancheng Zobon (or Shanghai United, according to their club badge). The Pudong side accused Shenhua of gamesmanship, according to the Shanghai Daily.
Shenhua offered their derby opponents the chance to practice on Hongkou pitch — but not until 9 pm at night — which would be well past the bed-times of United’s players, apparently. And, as if a derby clash needed anymore drama, United owner, IT tycoon Zhu Jun reportedly offered four-million yuan (US$500,000) to his squad if they beat Shenhua.
The game failed to live up to the pre-match hype, however. Shenhua played in a 4-3-1-2 formation with close-season signing, Serbian Ivan Jovanovic, playing ‘in the hole’ between midfield and strikers. His creative talents were largely wasted during a first half marred by constant stoppages for minor injuries to players. United almost stole the show with a marvelous curling freekick that crashed down off the crossbar and back into play, prompting a scramble in Shenhua’s box. Li Weifeng had the ball in the net for Shenhua 5 minutes from time, sending Hongkou into a frenzy which lasted seconds before the goal was quite rightly chalked off for being offside.
The referee’s whistle was greeted with grumbling from the stands as Shenhua’s indifferent start to the season continued.
Verdict — an electric derby atmosphere but a poor performance from both teams. Highlight of the evening was Shanghaiist’s companion having his plastic bottle of baijiu confiscated by the police, who somehow spotted it being quaffed among the masses.
Shenhua head south to Shenzhen tomorrow night for at CSL clash and their next home game is against Wuhan on April 8, at Hongkou Stadium.
Also on Shanghaiist:
Derby Feva: Shenhua vs. Zobon
All bets are off: Shenhua commence CSL 2006 title attack this weekend
Du on his Wei back to Shanghai