The first game of the new season took place at Carl’s hallowed turf in Century Park. Looking to get off to a winning start, the new look Shanghai Marlins were up against a fit, fast and young Shanghai 2000…plus a couple of Chinese muppets. The boys in blue got off to a poor start after just a few minutes when the young striker for Shanghai 2000 turned in the box and rolled the ball home. It wasn’t long though until the Marlins equalised with ex-Gremio striker, Zhu, scoring on his debut with a curling shot into the far corner. But minutes later, 2000 took the lead again as the Marlins were struggling for fluidity and shape. Two-one became 3-1 when the Chinese midfielder – who had the face of a bulldog chewing a wasp – clipped a freekick over the wall and just under the bar. As half-time approached, the Marlins got a vital goal back, again from Zhu. Despite stupid protests, the goal was given and at the break it was 3-2 to Shanghai 2000.
The Marlins started the second half well as they went in search of an equaliser. That eventually arrived when Zhu – like Fabrizio Ravanelli on his Boro debut (that mention is for Gerrard) – completed his hat-trick. The passionate striker did it in style too, as he turned one defender before running between two others and toe-punting a sharp finish at the near-post! At 3-3 the game was on a knife edge and both teams were quite rightly going for the win. Shanghai 2000 hit the post with a lucky bounce from a divot in the pitch while Zhu hit the post and then the bar in the final few minutes with two separate attempts. Unfortunately for Shanghai Marlins, they couldn’t find a winner and were left to rue another opening day draw. They’ll be looking to take out their frustrations on their next opponents when they take on the Bulls on Sunday. Man of the match honours quite rightly went to Zhu, who will be hoping to maintain his form right through the season.
Special mention for Jamie Gerrard who will be competing in a triathlon in Shandong this Saturday. Good luck fella!