CSL Roundup: Top teams draw as Jiangsu climb out of the relegation zone

The 18th round of the Chinese Super League saw plenty of action at both ends of the table. Here’s a look at how the weekend went down.

Like the headline states, the top teams all drew. Top teams being the top three, Tianjin Quanjian, Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou Evergrande. The two best teams in the league both drew because they faced each other while Tianjin struggled with ten men against a resurgent Henan Jianye.

Let’s start with the Shanghai versus Guangzhou match on Saturday.

After a scoreless first half, the second half really came to life at the Shanghai Stadium. Alan opened the scoring after six minutes half before Wu Lei tied it up five minutes later. Then Yu Hanchao once again put the league leaders in front after 70 minutes, before Wu Lei appeared yet again to ruin the party just five minutes before the end of the match.

That meant that if Tianjin were to win they would cut the lead of the front two down to six and seven points respectively. However, as already mentioned, they only managed a draw.

Tianjin went 1-0 up from a corner and looked in complete control. Then Haolun Mi got sent off after receiving his second yellow of the evening after 71 minutes and Henan were all of a sudden back in it. They capitalised on their numerical advantage and Zhong Jinbao pulled Henan level with a header after 77 minutes. That missed opportunity means Tianjin are now eight and nine points behind the top two and it means Shandong Luneng, who beat Changchun Yatai 3-2 the day before, are now just one point behind them, with one game in hand.

While Shandong won and pulled in one point behind Tianjin, Hebei China Fortune, who have had a slip in form recently, could go level with Tianjin on points if they won their game. They travelled to Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng and what a match it turned out to be.

Ezequiel Lavezzi opened the scoring for the favourites after just eight minutes and one could think that this would be over and done with early. But Guizhou had other plans. Festus Baise pulled Guizhou level after 22 minutes before it all fell apart for Hebei just before the break. Min Junlin and Nikica Jelavic both scored after the clock had passed 40 minutes and sent the newly promoted team into the break with a 3-1 lead.

That 3-1 lead was extended just after the break as Chang Feiya scored just six minutes into the half to make it 4-1. A Zhang Chengdong goal just three minutes later and a Lavezzi penalty fifteen minutes from full time was not enough for Hebei who endured their third loss in a row and their fourth from the last five matches. This form is not good enough if they want to get a Champions League spot.

In the China Derby between Beijing Guoan and Shanghai Shenhua, the appointment of Roger Schmidt seems to have worked wonders for Guoan confidence as they beat their old rival 2-1 in Shanghai and really put their name forward for third place, now only four points behind Tianjin. Beijing’s new star man Jonathan Soriano has been the best striker in green in recent weeks and scored a goal on either side of Giovani Moreno’s goal for Shanghai to secure the win for the capital side.

At the bottom of the league, Jiangsu Suning pulled off the impossible and won their second league game of the season against the side that has taken the crown as the most miserable side in the league, Liaoning Whowin.  They smashed the poor Liaoning side 4-0 in a display that had you wonder how they haven’t played like this all year long.

Elsewhere, Chongqing Lifan beat Tinajin TEDA 2-1 to send TEDA ever closer to the relegation zone while Chongqing are languishing in a comfortable ninth spot.

In the last match of this round, Guangzhou R&F finally broke their dry spell in equally great fashion by thumping bottom of the league Yanbian 6-2. A brace from Steve was not enough as Eran Zahavi scored four, while Urso Junior and Renatinho scored one each (Renatinho also assisted two of Zahavi’s goals).