The 24th round of the Chinese Super League got underway on Friday when league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande hosted Changchun Yatai. Changchun are stuck in no-man’s land on the table and probably won’t be going much up or down in the remaining six matches, and therefore do not have much to play for. No surprise then, when Evergrande ran out 3-1 winners. A Ricardo Goulart brace before Changchun got on the scoreboard pretty much sealed the deal. Anzur Ismailov scored Yatai’s solitary goal before Alan put the final touch to the scoreline just after the hour mark.
Two games were played on Saturday as well before the main portion of the round got going on Sunday, that was Shandong Luneng – Jiangsu Suning and Shanghai SIPG – Tianjin TEDA. In other words, two teams at the top against two teams at the bottom of the table.
Knowing that Evergrande won the day before Shanghai SIPG knew what they had to do to keep the gap to the Guangzhou powerhouse at a closeable distance. And they matched their rivals score, winning 3-1 over a sorry Tianjin TEDA side.
Shandong Luneng were not that lucky when they took on a somewhat resurgent Jiangsu Suning side. The Champions League contenders could only manage a 0-0 draw, a result Suning will be much more pleased with as they now have started opening up a proper gap to the three teams behind them on the table.
Sunday saw the big match of this round take place when Hebei China Fortune played Guangzhou R&F. Both teams needed a win to keep up with everyone else in the incredibly tight Champions League race and it was Hebei who came out on top. A first half that saw Aloisio and Lifeng Zhang get on the scoreline meant that R&F had a job to do in the second. A job they couldn’t quite manage. Yi Teng gave R&F hope with a little over half an hour remaining but R&F could not find another way through the Hebei defence and the match ended in a 2-1 win for Hebei.
A man who could use a win is Gus Poyet. The Shanghai Shenhua manager is under ever increasing pressure and rumours have circulated that Shenhua have been making enquiries to former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique about taking over. It’s then definitely not helpful that Shenhua lost 2-1 to Henan Jianye who took a big step away from the relegation zone with this win. Wang Shouting gave Shenhua the lead before a second half brace from ex West Ham man Ricardo Vaz Te ruined the fun for Shanghai.
Elsewhere Chongqing Lifan kept Liaoning Whowin at bay to win 2-0. The win means Liaoning are still deep in relegation trouble, only one point above the drop zone.
Tianjin Quanjian kept up their Champions League hopes by beating mid-table Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng 3-1. Goals from Alexandre Pato, Anthony Modeste and Wang Yongpo meant Quanjian where quite safe before Fan Wang scored Guizhou’s only goal with four minutes remaining.
Finally we go to the capital where Beijing Guoan made life incredibly difficult for themselves in the hunt for the Champions League spots against bottom of the league Yanbian Funde. It started off well for Guoan as Yu Yang gave them the lead after only three minutes. Then came a Yanbian comeback where Steve scored twice before Richard Guzmics added another to give Yanbian a 3-1 lead at half time. Apparently the Guoan players got told off properly at the break by Roger Schmidt as they came out guns blazing. It took only ten minutes and Beijing had drawn level after goals from Jonathan Soriano and Yu Yang. In the 69th minute Jonathan Soriano put Beijing ahead again and many must have thought the game would surely be over now. But Steve wanted it differently. Just a minute before the game went in to added time he put Yanbian back level and ensured the match ended in a 4-4 draw.