• Pato penalty misses as 10-man Shenhua clings to draw


    SHANGHAI: Tianjin Quanjian’s Brazilian import Alexandre Pato missed an 88th-minute penalty as 10-man Shanghai Shenhua held on for a fiery 1-1 draw in the Chinese Super League.

    The Brazilian, who cost 18 million euros ($19.2 million) from Villarreal in January, blazed over the bar after referee Li Haixin provoked a furious reaction from fans at Shanghai’s Hongkou Stadium by awarding the spot-kick for a handball.

    Former AC Milan star Pato was mocked after the miss by Shenhua midfielder Sun Shilin, who sarcastically patted the striker on the back and gave a thumbs-up to his face.

    The 27-year-old Brazilian, recruited by manager Fabio Cannavaro in the winter transfer window, has endured a torrid and goalless start to his career in China.

    He missed several chances to open his goal account when Tianjin slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Guangzhou R&F in their season opener a week ago.

    “In football, a lot of players miss penalties,” said Cannavaro, according to the Shanghai Daily newspaper. “I regard it as bad luck. I’m generally happy with the team’s performance.”

    It was a dramatic end to a bad-tempered and dramatic encounter that had seen Gus Poyet’s Shenhua reduced to 10 men in the first half.

    Qin Sheng was given a straight red card for a stamp on the ankle of Quanjian’s Belgian star Axel Witsel.

    That left Argentine striker Carlos Tevez, reportedly the world’s highest paid player with a salary of 38 million euros a year, largely isolated up front.

    But Shenhua, roared on by a vociferous near 33,000-capacity crowd, took a surprise lead with 16 minutes to go when Giovanni Moreno latched onto a clever backheel by Cao Yunding to fire home an unstoppable left-foot finish.

    Witsel equalized with his first goal since his 20 million euro move from Zenit St Petersburg.

    The 28-year-old shook off marker Fredy Guarin to lash home a superb left-foot volley from Wang Yongpo’s corner.

    But many thought Witsel was lucky to be on the pitch after minutes earlier receiving only a yellow card after appearing to elbow the Colombian Guarin.

    “Both teams picked up a lot of yellow cards in the match,” said Shenhua boss Poyet. “Controlling emotions is a complicated issue, and our team should have done better.

    “But this is our players’ character. If you force them to control themselves, it might affect their performance.”