Chinese Super League 2019 Weekly: Top Three Falter, Zahavi Golazo, Elkeson Debut for China

Matchweek 24:

Table:

Results:

SEE ALSO: Chinese Super League 2019 Weekly: El Shaarawy Stars, Relegation Battle, Title Stumble

Round Up:

Jiangsu Suning beat Guangzhou Evergrande 3-1. Fabio Cannavaro’s Guangzhou Evergrande have dropped points for the second consecutive match, this time losing to Jiangsu Suning. Éder put the hosts in front in the 37th minute, finishing clinically after Alex Teixeira’s nifty footwork in the penalty area. Guangzhou’s creator, Yang Liyu, drilled in a low cross in the 61st minute, which Miranda accidentally turned into his own net, equalizing the score at 1-1. Then in the 69th minute, Éder became provider, crossing for Alex Teixeira to finish and put Jiangsu ahead 2-1. Paulinho was denied an equalizer in the 89th minute as Gu Chao made a strong save from a header. With Guangzhou chasing the match, Wang Song added a third goal for Jiangsu in the final minute, sealing the points.

Beijing Guoan drew with Shenzhen FC 1-1. Beijing Guoan missed a crucial opportunity to further close the gap on Guangzhou Evergrande by only drawing with relegation threatened Shenzhen FC. Gan Chao put the hosts ahead following a clever pass from new signing Dyego Sousa. Sousa’s hold up play caused problems for Beijing, as Gan Chao had a chance to score again on 34 minutes. The equalizer came in the 74th minute, as Bakambu tapped in a cross from Zhang Yuning. 4 minutes later Bakambu absolutely fluffed his lines, missing a wide open goal. That miss dealt Beijing’s title hopes a huge blow. Questions will be asked about why Brazilian midfielder Fernando was left on the bench for this match. Beijing are now still 4 points back of leaders Guangzhou.

Shandong Luneng beat Shanghai SIPG 3-1. Shanghai’s bid to retain their CSL title has stalled significantly, as they were comfortably beaten 3-1 by Shandong Luneng. Liu Binbin opened the scoring in the 18th minute with an absolute screamer after cutting onto his right foot from the left wing. Zhang Chi added the second, latching onto a ball over the top from Graziano Pellè. His first touch effortlessly took him around the defender before calmly slotting past Yan Junling. Just a minute later, Pellè found space between two Shanghai defenders to finish Liu Binbin’s pinpoint delivery, giving his side a commanding 3-0 lead. Hulk robbed the careless Shandong centerback Liu Junshuai to pull one back for the visitors. Marko Arnautovic was left on the bench from the start, before being summoned at halftime, but ultimately could not spark his team. Shanghai have only won one of their last five league matches.

Guangzhou R&F beat Tianjin Tianhai 2-1. Yang Xu gave Tianjin the lead in the 18th minute following some really poor defending that is emblematic of Guangzhou R&F this season, as they have conceded a league high 59 goals in 24 matches. Eran Zahavi, the league’s top scorer by some distance this season, equalized with a header from a Lu Lin corner just before halftime. After missing a good chance to put his team ahead, Zahavi pulled off a contender for goal of the season. In injury time, Zahavi collected a cross along the ground from the right, and after swiveling in the box, fired a brilliantly struck rabona into the side netting, giving Guangzhou R&F the victory.

Henan Jianye beat Hebei China Fortune 4-1. Tim Chow opened the scoring for Henan in the 11th minute, after some loose defending from Hebei. In the 20th minute, Wang Shangyuan scored a looping header from a corner to double Henan’s advantage. Feng Zhuoyi scored a header to make it 3-0. Fernando Karanga showed an impressive burst of pace to get through on goal before unselfishly squaring it to Christian Bassogog to make it 4-0. Jiang Zhipeng pulled one back late for Hebei, but the points go to Henan. Hebei should be careful not be dragged into the relegation battle with Shenzhen FC and Tianjin Tianhai.

Tianjin Teda beat Shanghai Shenhua 3-0. Frank Acheampong raced through on goal in the 12th minute to open the scoring, after a brilliantly timed pass from Zheng Kaimu. Sandro Wagner doubled Tianjin’s advantage with a downward header from a corner in the 20th minute. Zheng Kaimu killed the match in the 51st minute, scoring a header to make it 3-0. Shanghai Shenhua were unbeaten in their last five matches before this defeat to Tianjin Teda.

Wuhan Zall beat Dalian Yifang 1-0. Rafa Benitez was unable to engineer a victory for his side, as they fell 1-0 to Wuhan Zall. Wuhan’s big January signing from RCD Espanyol, Baptistao, made the difference in the 66th minute, after a horrendous mistake from Li Jianbin gifted the chance to Brazilian. Li Jianbin was then sent off in injury time after booting the ball at an opposition player after conceding a foul, concluding a night that he will quickly want to forget.

OFF THE PITCH:

China defeated the Maldives 5-0 in the first match of Asian World Cup 2022 Qualifiers, with Brazilian-born Chinese international Elkeson, or Ai Kesen, playing his first match for his new country and scoring two goals. Other goals were scored by Wu Lei, Wu Xi, and Yang Xu, sending China to the top of Group A, ahead of Syria on goal difference. China’s next match will be against Guam on October 10. After much debate, Elkeson finally had the chance to represent his new nation. In an interview beforehand, he spoke very enthusiastically about being given the chance to represent China. He said, “Today is a very special day for me. I woke up at 4am, excited about meeting my teammates and the manager. I spoke to Marcello Lippi some time ago about the possibility of playing for China and I’m very happy the day has come. Today I felt very welcomed by my teammates and the team officials. The atmosphere is wonderful.” On learning Mandarin, Elkeson pledged to try and learn, “I want to learn Mandarin, I admit that previously I did not invest in learning Mandarin because the coaches were Italian or Portuguese. But now it is becoming more necessary and I am confident I will learn it. I hope you’ll also have patience as it will not happen overnight.” With his sincere commitment to the Chinese national team, and the goals to match, Chinese fans should start to warm to Ai Kesen over these World Cup Qualifiers.

Elkeson thanks the Chinese fans after his first international appearance for the Chinese national team (Image Source: SupChina)

PANDAILY PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

This week’s Pandaily Player of the Week is Guangzhou R&F’s Eran Zahavi. There is truly nothing the outstanding Israeli cannot do, as he is having an absolutely historic scoring season registering 26 goals in just 22 games played. Zahavi is a lock to win the Golden Boot this season, helped by his two goals this week. Elkeson set the single season scoring record in 2014 with 28 goals for Shanghai SIPG, and Zahavi will need 3 goals in the final 6 matches of this campaign to break the record. While Guangzhou R&F have far and away the worst defense in the league, they have scored the third-most goals, largely thanks to Zahavi and his precise finishing. In 2018, he signed a three-year contract extension with the club, for an annual salary worth around $10 million, making him the highest-paid Israeli sportsman ever. On the basis of this season’s performances, it seems that Guangzhou R&F have done a good bit of business extending his contract.

Guangzhou R&F forward Eran Zahavi celebrating with his trademark finger pistols (Source: Titan Sports)