First of all. Congratulations Guangzhou Evergrande! And bye-bye Yanbian Funde and Liaoning Whowin.
Evergrande have been top of the table since match day Seven (!) and thoroughly deserve their fourth league title in a row. As for Yanbian, they have been in the relegation zone almost as long, since match day Eight, so you could say their relegation is equally deserved. Liaoning have only recently fallen into the relegation zone but have been quite bad for large portions of the season. But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let’s have a look at how the matches went this weekend.
Back to Friday then.
Liaoning Whowin had to win to have ANY chance to stay up, but it went wrong early away to Shandong Luneng. Diego Tardelli scored after only 15 minutes and Papiss Cisse made Liaoning’s road back even more difficult seven minutes before half-time when he scored on a penalty. The humiliation was made complete when Jin Jingdao scored only seconds after coming on at the hour mark, which meant Wang Hao’s goal in extra time meant absolutely nothing and that Liaoning Whowin will be a League One team next year after losing 3-1. The win sees Shandong still in the hunt for a Champions League spot with only three points up to the third place.
The other team to join them in League One in 2018 will be Yanbian Funde. They played the early kick-off on Saturday against Henan Jianye. They, like Liaoning, did not turn up from the start of the match and Christian Bassogog scored after only six minutes for Henan. Bassogog then ruined Yanbian’s day as he scored a second just after the second half kicked off, which meant Steve’s goal just after the hour was not enough for Yanbian as they lost 2-1.
In the other Saturday kick-off, Hebei China Fortune could secure their Champions League spot with a win against fourth-placed Tianjin Quanjian. It started well for visitors Hebei as Lifeng Zhang scored after only 11 minutes. However, the second half belonged to Tianjin as Alexandre Pato could have equalised but missed from the penalty spot after 53 minutes. Tianjin then finally drew level seven minutes later as Zheng Dalun put the ball in the net on the hour mark. Then, twelve minutes from full time, Alexandre Pato sent Tianjin in the lead and they managed to hold off for a 2-1 win. This means there’s only one point between the two teams fighting for the third place that guarantees a Champions League spot next year. Fourth place could also give a CL spot, if Shanghai SIPG win the FA Cup.
On Sunday Guangzhou R&F and Shanghai SIPG went to battle with both teams having everything to play for. If R&F won they would still be in a shot with a CL spot and if SIPG won they would keep the pressure on Evergrande who were playing at the same time. R&F took the lead early as Jiang Jihong scored after five minutes. Hulk showed what was to come for SIPG as he missed a penalty after 11 minutes. Eran Zahavi then doubled R&F’s lead as he scored four minutes into the second half. Hulk’s goal after an hour of play was not enough as SIPG couldn’t fight back, losing 2-1. In the end it didn’t really matter what their result was as news came through of what was happening in Guangzhou.
There Guangzhou Evergrande had absolutely thumped Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng 5-1 to become champions for a fourth time running. Gao Lin and Alan started the goal show before Wang Fan gave Guizhou hope after half an hour. Then Du Wei put the ball in his own net after 52 minutes to give Evergrande another two-goal cushion before Yu Hanchao scored after 77 minutes and Muriqui finished the match off two minutes into extra time, setting the scoreline at 5-1.
Finally, Chongqing Lifan and Shanghai Shenhua drew 1-1, while Tianjin TEDA beat Beijing Guoan 2-0.
With both the top two and bottom two positions in the league table set in stone, there’s still a lot to play for with two rounds to go. Both the potential Champions League spots are still up for grabs, that will be an interesting battle to follow.