CFA Cup Semi-Final Roundup

Shanghai Shenxin 0-2 Shanghai Greenland Shenhua (0-1 after the first leg)

Shanghai Shenhua had the easier route to the semi-final with their opponents Shanghai Shenxin advancing on penalties in the fourth round, while also scraping through the fifth against Jiangsu Suning.

Unlike the other semi-final, this was a tense match between two tough and tenacious defences, with both sides looking to prevent the opposition from claiming an unassailable advantage throughout the game.

After the first leg, Shanghai Shenhua held a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a 54th-minute strike from Kee Hee Kim. Even with this slight advantage doubt still crept into a side fairly confident they could battle it out in the second leg to reach the final.

Now with the competitive edge of being at home Shanghai Shenxin could have the belief to overturn the deficit but in truth, they were outmuscled, outfought and outclassed by their superior neighbours.

It’s a testament to the Shanghai sides that a derby occurred in the semi-finals, but it was evident Shenhua were a level above one of their closest rivals, Obafemi Martins doubling his side’s advantage with just ten minutes to go in the second leg.

Shanghai Shenxin are still only a mid-table team in League One and will learn from this defeat, after all, it has been an excellent cup run. But Shanghai Shenhua deservedly advance to the final and will no doubt fancy their chances.

Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao 2-6 Shanghai SIPG (1-2 after the first leg)

It was a shock to see these two teams in the semi-final, both creating memorable and quite unbelievable comebacks in the fifth round of the competition.

Both knew that they had gone from agony to ecstasy in the previous round and were determined to cast those memories aside to reach the final with a chance to claim the ultimate crown.

Shanghai SIPG had gone into the game as favourites after their 2-1 aggregate victory in the first leg and were confident on building on that lead as they visited Guangzhou for the last leg of the semi-final.

While the first leg of the semi-final was close, Liu Juan scoring for Guangzhou and Odil Akhmedov and He Guan replying late on for Shanghai SIPG, the second leg was the polar opposite as the major players for Shanghai delivered under enormous pressure.

Ever since Hulk and Oscar signed for Shanghai, criticism has flowed their way after poor runs of form, with many football commentators and pundits claiming that they cannot adopt to the Chinese footballing culture.

Nonetheless, against Guangzhou they delivered, responding well from an early setback by Lin Gao to place Shanghai in the final. Three goals from the South American pair, combined with a Wei Shihao cracker, completed the victory.

Perhaps this is not surprising. André Villas-Boas has installed a granitic mindset in his players not to give up and battle onwards even when adversity strikes.

Shanghai SIPG were 3-0 down after the first leg against Tianjin Quanjian in the quarters but managed to turn it around at home in the second by winning 4-0 and completing a stunning comeback.

With the players that Shanghai possesses they should not be written off in what should be a classic final, one that should excite the fans across China and the wider world.