SHANGHAI - Agence France-Presse
Shanghai Shenhua’s attacking duo Nicolas Anelka (L) and Didier Drogba salute the crowd after playing together for the first time in a year after their Chelsea days. AP photo
Didier Drogba made an instant impact on his debut for Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua on July 22, setting up his new team’s equalizer in a 1-1 draw away to Guangzhou R&F.
The former Chelsea striker started the game on the bench but came on at half time, almost scoring with his first touch of the ball - an outrageous 40-yard free kick which Guangzhou goalkeeper Cheng Yuelei tipped wide.
Shenhua had struggled in the first half after falling behind to an unfortunate own goal by Brazilian defender Moises on 21 minutes, but the introduction of Drogba instantly transformed the visitors’ fortunes.
The game had been one of China’s most eagerly awaited this season, with Drogba-fever having swept the Chinese football world.
Shenhua has struggled badly this season, winning just four of 17 games, but they played with an increased level of confidence when Drogba, a European Champions League winner with Chelsea in May, stepped onto the pitch.
Drogba’s biggest contribution came in the 68th minute with a through ball which found Cao Yunding, who scored to equalize.