Shanghai East Asia Hong Kong United 0 – 3 LA Galaxy
Two late goals from Ecuadorian striker Carlos Ruiz gave a final scoreline that not only overstated the quality and excitement of this game, but also flattered a lack-lustre LA Galaxy side at the largely empty 80,000 Shanghai Stadium. East Asia had reduced Major League Soccer’s Galaxy to few chances on goal and had even looked the more threatening side for long spells, before Ruiz put the game beyond them with two goals in as many minutes late on.
His strikes in the 80th and 82nd minutes completed a hat trick following his looping header in first half stoppage time from a trademark Beckham cross. Beckham, who was cheered by around 10,000 fans whenever he touched the ball or was shown on the big screen, delivered an otherwise largely anonymous performance — showing only brief flashes of his class. In fairness to the former England captain, he could hardly be blamed for not fully exerting himself in this mostly meaningless exhibition game, especially given his history of injury problems and the state of the playing field.
Galaxy coach Ruud Gullit had complained about the pitch before the game and from where Shanghaiist was sitting it looked like a perfect playing surface — for beach volleyball. Gullit’s comments that the pitch was “dangerous” were not an exaggeration.
Nevertheless, the pitch and the scoreline were side issues in, what was for many people, the David Beckham show. This was no more evident than when, with twenty minutes remaining, Beckham was substituted, resulting in an emptying of the stands. Indeed, there were few fans left in the ground when, with ten minutes remaining, Sean Franklin drilled in a cross from the right wing and Ruiz stole in front of his marker to flick the ball across the goalkeeper and into the far corner. Two minutes later Ruiz completed his hat trick, poking the ball past the on-rushing East Asia goalkeeper with the outside of his right boot having broken through the middle.
Aside from the goals and a disallowed Galaxy effort in the first half (laughably flagged for offside despite Ruiz being a clear yard or so behind the defender when the ball was played) there were few other incidents of note in what was frankly an appalling game of football.
In order to regain his place in the England side and claim his 100th cap, Beckham is well aware that Fabio Capello needs to see him prove himself in competitive matches, and this game was a long way from the standard that an England international should be playing at. At least the hoards of Beckham groupies who came will hopefully go home happy at having caught a glimpse of their idol, but that’s probably the most positive thing that Shanghaiist can find to say about the whole spectacle.
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