Quanjian takes swipe at SIPG

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Brazil striker Alexandre Pato (right) of Tianjin Quanjian clashes with Uzbekistan midfielder Odil Ahmedov of Shanghai SIPG during their CSL match in Shanghai on Sunday.

Fabio Cannavaro's Tianjin Quanjian took aim at rival Shanghai SIPG yesterday following a bad-tempered draw in the Chinese Super League punctuated by incidents on and off the field — including over a towel.

Opposing fans briefly scuffled outside Shanghai Stadium after Sunday's 0-0 stalemate, according to videos on social media, while on the pitch there were several flashpoints between players and staff of the two sides.

Tianjin players posed with white towels after the game, an ironic nod to a first-half dispute with Andre Villas-Boas's Shanghai over the visitors using towels to dry the ball for throw-ins.

At one point during the match a ballboy and member of Tianjin's staff wrestled for a towel on the sidelines, and the Tianjin official was consequently ordered away from the side of the pitch.

Villas-Boas and members of Cannavaro's backroom staff also engaged in a slanging match, but both managers were tight-lipped after the game.

Tianjin, however, was more forthright on Weibo.

"We condemn any form of soccer hooliganism under any circumstances, location or reason," Tianjin, third in the CSL, said in a statement.

"We hope that all teams and fans on the away side can fully enjoy and shout their support and safely return home."

The post accompanied a picture of Shanghai fans and one of their banners reading: "Viewing with virtue, shouting with technique, wild with restraint."

But in the statement Tianjin said pointedly slogans "should be implemented in action".

In response SIPG urged its fans to behave "in a civilized manner".

"As a football team in Shanghai we constantly keep in mind that our words and deeds should be worthy of the glory of the city," the club said on Weibo.

The weekend draw left Shanghai second, three points off leader and reigning champion Guangzhou Evergrande.

Villas-Boas, meanwhile, fears that the prolonged absence of banned Brazil star Oscar could torpedo SIPG's title hopes.

Having watched the goalless stalemate against Tianjin, Villas-Boas was left to rue the absence of attacking midfielder Oscar, the Asian-record, 60-million-euro (US$70.76 million) man who is reaching the end of an eight-game ban for triggering a brawl in a CSL game in June.

Oscar returns this month but former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Villas-Boas believes it is no coincidence that his team has hit a rough patch of form during the player's lengthy suspension.

"It was the decision by the CFA to suspend one of the best players in the world for eight games, so what can we do?" a clearly frustrated Villas-Boas asked after the game.

"Of course we miss Oscar. It's been a long spell without him... it's just too much.

"Our bad spell corresponds to the fact that we had Oscar suspended for eight games."

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