Chinese Super League 2019 Weekly: Cannavaro Under Pressure, Title Showdown Looms
SEE ALSO: Chinese Super League 2019 Weekly: Shanghai Bests Beijing, Tianjin Scrambles for Safety, CFA Hands Control to Clubs
Guangzhou Evergrande drew 2-2 with Henan Jianye. Ivo scored in the 2nd minute to shock hosts and leaders Guangzhou. The Brazilian playmaker latched onto a pass from Cameroonian striker Christian Bassogog and quickly fired a shot into the bottom right corner. In the 7th minute, Henan nearly doubled their lead as Fernando Karanga hit the bar, Bassogog hit the post twice, causing a goalmouth scramble. Feng Zhouyi hit the post in the 15th minute, as the visitors piled on the pressure. Bassogog doubled Henan’s advantage in the 35th minute after racing through in behind the defense and smashing a left-footed strike past the keeper. Just after halftime, Wei Shihao won a penalty, and Paulinho converted to reduce the deficit. In the 55th minute, Elkeson lofted a cross to the back post where Wei Shihao headed in the equalizer for Guangzhou. However, the match would end in a disappointing draw for the league leaders, who are now only one point ahead of Shanghai SIPG who they play next matchweek, and two points up on Beijing Guoan.
Shanghai SIPG beat Dalian Yifang 3-0. Defending champions Shanghai SIPG got off to a great start as Lü Wenjun played a brilliant pass through to Li Shenglong who finished smartly in the 13th minute. In the 26th minute, Oscar delivered a dangerous free-kick into the penalty area where it came off Dalian defender Zhou Ting last, for an own goal. At 2-0 it was rather comfortable for the hosts who controlled the match from then on. Shanghai added a third goal in the last minute of added time, as Arnautovic squared for Oscar to tap in. Shanghai SIPG are in good form going into next week’s massive match with Guangzhou Evergrande.
Beijing Guoan beat Tianjin Teda 3-1. Beijing won the latest edition of the Jing-Jin derby, between their neighbors in the northeast, Tianjin Teda. Zhang Yuning offered a sign of intent for Beijing, heading against the bar in the 8th minute from a Renato Augusto corner. Cedric Bakambu broke the deadlock in the 25th minute after a pinpoint pass from Renato Augusto caused havoc amongst the Tianjin defense, allowing Bakambu to steal in and apply the finish. However, Bakambu missed a glorious opportunity to score another just before halftime. It seemed that miss would come back to haunt Beijing, as Sandro Wagner equalized for Tianjin, heading in a from a dangerous free-kick in the 64th minute. In the 80th minute Renato Augusto put Beijing in front, controlling a long ball from Kim Min-Jae brilliantly, before cutting onto his left and curling his sumptuous effort in off the far post. Beijing sealed the victory as Bakambu unselfishly squared for his strike partner, substitute Wang Ziming. Beijing are now two points back of leaders Guangzhou Evergrande with three matches to play.
Shenzhen FC drew with Wuhan Zall 4-4. Rafael Silva opened the scoring for Wuhan in the 15th minute, beating the offside trap to tap in from a tight angle. Wang Kai added a second in the 24th minute, smashing a low drive off the far post and in. Jean Evrard Kouassi scored the third for Wuhan, after a corner fell to him just a few yards out. Just after halftime, John Mary pulled one back for Shenzhen, unleashing a venomous volley into the top corner from a tight angle. Leo Baptistao scored for Wuhan after Rafael Silva’s audacious chip bounced off the post to his teammate. At 4-1 Wuhan likely thought the result was decided decided, but Shenzhen are fighting relegation and would not go quietly. The comeback began in the 74th minute, when John Mary scored a header following a good cross from Lu Haidong. Two minutes later Wang Chengkuai scored to bring the score to 4-3. Astoundingly, Wang Chengkuai would score again the 78th minute, capping a remarkable comeback for Shenzhen, earning them a point in a desperate battle to avoid relegation.
Jiangsu Suning drew with Shandong Luneng 1-1. A match between the CSL’s two best clubs outside the top three ended in an uninspiring draw. In the 23rd minute, Jiangsu’s Wu Xi raced through on goal before Liu Junshuai brought him down. The referee rightfully showed a red card to the Shandong defender. Xie Pengfei eventually gave the home side the lead, nodding a header form a Wu Xi lofted pass. Hope seemed to be lost for Shandong, as they tried desperately to keep the deficit to one. However, they rescued an unlikely point as Wu Xinghan’s cross in the 93rd minute found Dai Lin who headed in to equalize.
Hebei China Fortune beat Guangzhou R&F 2-1. Hebei missed a fantastic opportunity to get ahead early on, when Javier Mascherano missed a penalty in the 8th minute. Guangzhou R&F’s lethal frontman, Israeli Eran Zahavi missed a good chance in the 35th minute, but he wasn’t to be denied for long. In the 38th minute, he pressured Hebei defender Pan Ximing, before racing in on goal and finishing smartly with his left. This goal was Zahavi’s 28th of the season, equaling the single season scoring record set by Elkeson in 2014. Hebei equalized in the 69th minute as Marcão rose to meet a Wang Qiuming cross at the near post. Just before the end of the match, in the 95th minute, a penalty was awarded following a far review for a push in the back during a corner. Marcão steeped up and converting to send all three points to Hebei.
Chongqing Lifan beat Shanghai Shenhua 1-0. In the 17th minute, Chongqing earned a penalty after a handball from Shanghai Shenhua defender Zhu Chenjie. Alan Kardec duly dispatched the penalty to score what would turn out to be the only goal of the match. Stephan El Shaarawy and Odion Ighalo toiled in attack for Shanghai, but Chongqing defended well and kept a clean sheet.
Tianjin Tianhai drew against Beijing Renhe 2-2. Tianjin Tianhai looked to boost their survival hopes against bottom side Beijing Renhe, but could only muster a disappointing 2-2 draw. Beijing opened the scoring in the 24th minute as Makhete Diop placed a header past Fang Jingqi following a pinpoint cross from Cao Yongjing. Diop missed a great chance to go two ahead when his shot was too close to Fang Jingqi with all the goal to aim at in the 39th minute. Beijing Renhe went up 2-0 just before halftime, when Ayub Masika raced onto a lightning counter attack. Tianjin Tianhai’s most threatening player on the day, Alan, scored in the 52nd to bring the score 2-1. Zhang Chenglin equalized for Tianjin in the 62nd, glancing a near post header after Sun Ke whipped in a tempting cross. Tianjin Tianhai remained two points ahead of Shenzhen FC in the battle to avoid relegation with just three matches to play.
OFF THE PITCH:
League leaders Guangzhou Evergrande have temporarily suspended manager and Italian football legend Fabio Cannavaro, following his team’s 2-2 draw with Henan Jianye, saying that Cannavaro has to attend “company culture courses“. Guangzhou have been in poor form recently, after a mid-season run that saw them win 13 consecutive matches. They have won just once in their last nine matches in all competitions, and were eliminated from the AFC Champions League by Japanese outfit Urawa Reds. However, the decision comes as a bit of a shock, as Guangzhou are just two points ahead of Shanghai SIPG with three matches to play, and play Shanghai SIPG next match. In a match that could decide the fate of the league title, Chinese football legend and current Guangzhou Evergrande player Zheng Zhi will be in charge of the team’s managerial duties. At such a crucial point in the season, it remains to be seen whether the board at Guangzhou Evergrande are being decisive to impulsive. Next week’s match between the league’s top two teams will be a worthy watch.
PANDAILY PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
This week’s Pandaily Player of the Week is Henan Jianye’s Christian Bassogog. The Cameroonian forward was a handful against league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande. He supplied the first goal with a neat pass, and thundered in the second. It was a complete performance from Bassogog, who’s hold up play was also excellent. He previously played for Aalborg BK in Denmark before his move to Henan Jianye, where he has gone on to score 21 goals in 72 appearances. He has also scored 4 times in 26 caps for his country. He wears the #10 for Henan, and at just 24 years old, the central Chinese club will be hoping for more performances like that against Guangzhou Evergrande, when Bassogog dominated one of the top backlines in the division.