Guangzhou Evergrande defeated Beijing Guoan 3-1. This match had massive title implications, with Guangzhou beginning the day 4 points ahead of Beijing Guoan. Beijing needed a victory to cut the gap at the top to 1 point. After Paulinho opened the scoring 10 minutes in, the Beijing were able to respond with a scrappy goal from a corner, with Zhang Yiming getting the final touch. 1-1 at half, Beijing had hope of grabbing a winner and seizing the momentum in the title race. However in the second half, Fabio Cannavaro’s men showed their class, as they were much the better side. Goals came from Elkeson and Yang Liyu, powering Guangzhou to their 13th straight victory, and sending them 7 points clear with 8 matches to play. The title is likely now to return to the south coast.
Shanghai SIPG drew with Guangzhou R&F 2-2. Shanghai SIPG have been struggling of late, falling behind in the title race after drawing their last 4 matches. Vítor Pereira will be disappointed with his sides inability to mount a worthy title defense, barring a shocking turn of results in the final 8 matches. Guangzhou R&F broke the deadlock in the 61st minute when Xiao Zhi tapped in from close range after a pinpoint Zou Zheng cross. Marko Arnautovic drew a penalty in the 69th minute after taking a high boot to the face, and duly converted the spot kick. Shanghai then took the lead after Oscar’s curling effort from outside the box came back off the post but Hu Jinghang was there to tap in. Shanghai SIPG seemed to be on course for the victory when Dusko Tosic, the Serbian center back, latched onto a long ball and fired in the equalizer to the top corner.
Dalian Yifang drew with Jiangsu Suning 2-2. Rafa Benitez’s acclimation to life in China continues, as his side drew with fellow mid-table hopeful Jiangu Suning. Sun Bo opened the scoring for Dalian after lashing home a strike at the edge of the area from a Salomon Rondon assist. Alex Teixeira, as he so often does, scored for Jiangsu on 20 minues to level the score with a neat left-footed finish. Soon after Li Jianbin put Dalian ahead with a towering header from a Yannick Carrasco corner. The match continued its whirlwind start, as Éder latched onto a through ball and rifled his shot into the top corner at the near post, 2-2. Dalian’s goalscorer Sun Bo was then shown a straight red for a rash challenge on Éder. From that point the two sides tightened things at the back, neither able to break the stalemate. Jiangsu saw Tian Yinong sent off for a second yellow on Carrasco as the bitterness between these sides was evident.
Tianjin Tianhai drew with Chongqing Lifan 1-1. In a strange match that finished level, Tianjin Tianhai claimed a valuable point in their bid to avoid relegation. Previously stuck at the bottom of the table, Tianjin Tianhai have only lost 1 of the their last 6 matches, which has seen them climb above Shenzhen FC and Beijing Renhe. This match ended 1-1 thanks to an own goal for each team, providing very little in terms of entertainment.
Henan Jianye defeated Beijing Renhe 2-1. The conditions for the match in Henan were wet to say the least, as there were puddles all around the pitch, which definetly impacted the play. Despite the difficult conditions, Henan’s Ivo opened the scoring with a strong strike into the bottom right corner in the 10th minute, following some desperate defending in the box form Beijing Renhe. Just after halftime, the ball fell to Beijing Renhe’s Chen Jie about 25 yards out, and he unleashed a venomous wonderstrike into the top corner to level the match at 1-1.
Tianjin Teda defeated Wuhan Zall 2-1. Frank Acheampong scampered through on goal and rounded keeper Dong Chunyu, who fouled the Ghanian in the process. The resulting penalty was slotted into the bottom right corner by Johnathan, giving Tianjin Teda the 1-0 lead in the 54th minute. Then in the 69th minute, Rong Hao weighted a brilliant cross for Frank Acheampong to add another goal for Tianjin. Wuhan’s Rafael Silva pulled one back, thumping a strong header past Du Jia in the 79th minute, but it would prove to only be a consolation.
Shandong Luneng defeated Hebei China Fortune 3-0. Duan Liuyu was the star man for Shandong on the night, netting the first goal in the 72nd minute after a nice assist from Marouane Fellaini. Soon after, in the 76th minute, Duan Liuyu slipped in Roger Guedes to make it 2-0, before also assisting Marouane Fellaini in the 87th minute to complete a resounding victory for Shandong. Hebei have not been in great form of late, claiming just 6 points from their last 6 matches. They should be careful not to becoming embroiled in the relegation battle between Beijing Renhe, Shenzhen FC and Tianjin Tianhai.
OFF THE PITCH:
Guangzhou Evergrande’s Elkeson is set to become the first naturalized footballer for the Chinese national team. The Brazilian born forward is the all-time leading foreign goal-scorer in the Chinese league, during his time with Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG. According to Chinese media, the CFA have submitted a squad list including more than 50 players who are available for the 2022 World Cup qualifying AFC 2nd round, which is set to kick off in September. Elkeson has been included on this list. The CFA have made it well known the team’s ambition is to play in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and Elkeson could be the man to lead that qualification charge. The move has sparked debate among Chinese netizens, as some fans are still unsure about a player with no Chinese heritage playing for the national team.
PANDAILY PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
This week’s Pandaily Player of the Week is Shandong Luneng’s Duan Liuyu. The 21 year-old midfielder put in a fine display as his team dismantled Hebei China Fortune. He netted the first, and provided two assists, one for Roger Guedes and one for Marouane Fellaini. His fine form comes right as the Chinese national team is preparing for its upcoming World Cup qualification campaign, where Duan Liuyu will be looking to force his way in. The Chinese national team is an aging squad, so the young midfielder’s exuberance could be a welcome addition. If he continues with such impactful performances, coach Marcelo Lippi will be unable to ignore Duan’s talent. A native of the southern mega-city Shenzhen, Duan was transferred to Shandong Luneng for a youth record transfer fee of 1 million RMB. Just after signing with Shandong in 2015, at just 17 years-old, Duan Liuyu was sent to São Paolo FC in Brazil for a two-year training program. The youngster seems to have a promising career ahead of him.