The race for the Chinese Super League (CSL) title is heating up nicely — but league leaders Beijing Guoan’s place at the summit has been usurped in terms of headlines with the news of yet another superstar heading to China. This time it is Shanghai SIPG who have pulled off a sensational coup by luring Marko Arnautovic to switch from West Ham United for around £22million.
Beijing Guoan chalked up a convincing 3-0 win over Wuhan Zall to keep them top of the pile ahead of second-placed Guangzhou Evergrande — who sit two points adrift — with Fabio Cannavaro’s men maintaining the pressure last time of asking with a 3-1 win on the road at Tianjin Quanjian.
Shanghai SIPG are in third on the same points and will be looking for the former Hammers frontman Arnautovic to boost their firepower and bolster their chances of challenging for the CSL title. For the time being though, it’s Beijing Guoan who lead the pack and their victory over Wuhan Zall pleased boss Roger Schmidt enormously.
He watched on with great excitement and must have enjoyed the game as Jonathan Viera tapped in after 15th minutes before Beijing Guoan extended their advantage in the 52nd minute when Renato Augusto slotted home a penalty – which was given after Viera had been fouled inside the area. Spanish ace Viera wrapped things up and killed off the visitors with a third strike with 15 minutes remaining.
And Schmidt said of the encounter:
“It was a super game. Tactically we played very well. It was important for us to bounce back after last week’s disappointing 2-0 defeat against Shandong Luneng. We have been top of the table for a long time so far this season and we’ve been especially strong here at the Workers Stadium.”
Meanwhile, former Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez got off to a winning start as the new coach at Dalian Yifang as he steered his charges to a 3-1 triumph over Henan Jianye. His CSL baptism was certainly one to remember and his arrival at the club boosted the gate by around 10,000 fans, reports suggest.
Benitez-inspired Dalian Yifang had Ghana ace Emmanuel Boateng to thanks for hitting two goals while ex-Atletico Madrid star Yannick Carrasco, said to be on the radar of Arsenal boss Unai Emery, chipped in with a strike. The victory sees Dalian Yifang stay 10th in the standings.
At the other end of the table, Shandong Luneng saw off the challenge of Beijing Renhe with a 2-0 win thanks to goals after the break from ex-Southampton and Italy attacker Graziano Pelle and Roger Guedes. The defeat means Beijing Renhe are only one point above basement boys Tianjin Tianhai at the foot of the table.