A luckless Sydney FC have bowed out of the 2018 Asian Champions League after being held to a goalless draw by Shanghai Shenhua in a match the Australian champions should have won convincingly.
The hosts finished the game with a 71 per-cent share of possession, fired 22 shots to Shanghai's none, had three penalty shouts waved away and conceded half as many fouls, yet the one statistic that mattered most evaded a hapless Sydney FC. The Sky Blues required a win over Shanghai and other results to go their way but, as neither eventuated, Sydney ended their continental campaign with a valiant draw at home in front of just under 10,000 fans.
"I think the stats showed 22 shots to goal to zero. We had enough chances obviously to win three or four games but that's the way it goes. Its been a wonderful experience, the Champions League, we learned a lot of lessons along the way and I couldnt have been prouder of the effort the boys put in throughout the whole campaign," Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold said.
Making nine changes and leaving a handful of first team regulars back in China, Shanghai's team sheet provided a snapshot towards their final group game. No sooner than when the game began did their lethargy become clear. Defensive but barely strategic with little intent to cross their own half.
The invitation to roam forward was one Sydney FC gladly accepted and they should have opened the scoring with one of several early chances. The first fell to Bobo, who was put through on goal by Adrian Mierzejewski but fluffed his one-on-one with Shanghai goalkeeper Qiu Shengjiong.