BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhua) -- French striker Nicolas Anelka has been impressive in his Chinese Super League (CSL) debut but not enough to save Shanghai Shenhua from losing their first outing this season 3-2 to Beijing Guo'an here on Friday.
Anelka, the most high-profile signing to date in the CSL, scored the visitors an equalizer on 65 minutes after Joel Griffiths lured Beijing goalie Hou Sen out to leave the ball undefended in the box.
It was later confirmed as the sole real chance for Anelka since the former Chelsea forward was hardly backed by his teammates in the midfield throughout the game.
Just a quarter later, Beijing's new signing Mao Jianqing, formerly played for Shanghai, headed in a front free kick by Xu Liang to seal a hard-fighting victory for the host team.
Piao Cheng opened scoring for the home side with just two minutes remaining from the end of the first half, and Manu, the third foreign footballer of Guo'an, improve it 2-0 shortly into the second half, before Shanghai's Griffiths nailed a penalty and converted it himself.
Having joined the Shenhua team last January with a two-year contract worth more than 200,000 pounds (about 313,000 U.S. dollars) per week, Anelka missed the CSL's opening round due to injury last weekend when the Shenhua were forced a 1-1 home draw by Jiangsu Shuntian.
"I think it's still too soon to tell whether or not Anelka is worth the money," said Shanghai's head coach Jean Amadou Tiaga, a former French legendary footballer. "He's new and had trainings with the team far from engouh."
The 56-year-old Frenchman figured that it's not Anelka or his partnership with Griffiths to blame for the defeat.
"In my opinion, the most urgent task for my team is to make progress in the midfield," he said.
Jaime Pacheco was very proud that his team had done an excellent job in preventing Anelka from getting control of the ball.
"Anelka is a great player. I have to admit that he's made a very impressive debut," he said. "But someone else did an even better job in this game -- Darko Matic, who held the Frenchman back from turning a good job to an amazing job."
As the biggest name to play in the world's most populous nation, Anelka, who has played for many of the biggest clubs in the world including Real Madrid, Arsenal, Liverpool and Paris St Germain. The 33-year-old has scored 59 goals in 185 appearances for Chelsea before he came to Shanghai.
Previously, Chinese soccer's biggest import had been England star Paul Gascoigne. And, Argentine midfielder Dario Conca became China's most expensive player when he joined Guangzhou Evergrande in July on a 10-million U.S. dollar deal.
"The signing of Anelka is a very good move made by Shanghai Shenhua. With players like Anelka coming into China, the local players could be pushed to leap forward," added Pacheco.