Chinese Super League 2019 Weekly: El Shaarawy Stars, Relegation Battle, Title Stumble
Guangzhou Evergrande drew with Chongqing Lifan 1-1. After seemingly taking control of the title race, Guangzhou Evergrande were a bit complacent in their draw against Chongqing, just their second draw of the season. The result ended their run of 13 straight victories, and will give Beijing Guoan and Shanghai SIPG hope that there could be a late twist in the title race. Guangzhou took the lead in the 30th minute after Anderson Talisca curled a brilliant free kick around the wall. The lead was short-lived as just two minutes later Feng Jin scored a brilliant solo goal, dribbling past three defenders before curling in a low finish. Paulinho has a header bounce down off the crossbar in the 40th minute, but the match would end 1-1.
Beijing Guoan beat Dalian Yifang 2-0. Beijing Guoan secured important 3 points to keep the title race alive away from home in Dalian. Beijing broke the deadlock in the 56th minute through Ba Dun, finishing a well-taken corner. The points were sealed for Beijing when Zhang Yining scored the second in the 87th minute with a clinical strike from outside the area into the bottom left corner.
Shanghai SIPG beat Tianjin Teda 5-1. Lu Wenjin opened the scoring in the 10th minute following a chipped through ball from Marko Arnautovic. Sandro Wagner equalized for Tianjin with a header at the back post, but the deadlock was not to last. After halftime, Marko Arnautovic picked up the ball on the right side outside the penalty area and unleashed a venemous strike into the top left corner. Li Shenglong slotted in a third goal, as Shanghai were running rampant. Cai Huikang added the fourth and Ahmedov the fifth, in a resounding victory for the east coast side.
Shenzhen FC beat Guangzhou R&F 4-0. This was arguably Shenzhen’s biggest result of the season. Engaged in a relegation battle with Beijing Renhe and Tianjin Tianhai, a 4-0 victory against mid-table Guangzhou R&F will give them a huge boost in the relegation fight. Guangzhou defender Jiang Jihong was sent off in the 43rd minute for a last man shirt pull on Dyego Sousa. Sousa converted the penalty and the rout was on. Then Guangzhou’s Gan Chao was fouled in the box, for another penalty which striker John Mary converted. Then defender Dusko Tosic was sent off for Guangzhou after conceding another penalty, the third of the match. Although Colombian striker Harold Preciado missed the penalty, Gan Chao and Dyego Sousa would add two more in stoppage time to complete the 4-0 victory. Guangzhou R&F are averaging 2.52 goals conceded per match, the worst in the league.
Jiangsu Suning beat Henan Jianye 3-0. Éder scored the opener just after halftime with a brilliant volley across his body. Then in the 54th minute, Henan defender Han Xuan was sent off for taking down Alex Teixeira as the last man in defense, following a VAR review. A defensive mixup from Henan granted Jiangsu a penalty for a handball in the area following a whipped corner. In the 65th minute, Teixeira converted the penalty. Jiangsu were anchored at the back by Brazilian defender Miranda, who is acquitting himself well to life in China’s top division. Xie Pengfei added the third on 80 minutes, following some sloppy goalkeeping from Henan keeper Wu Yan.
Hebei China Fortune beat Beijing Renhe 2-1. Many were calling this match a relegation battle six-pointer, as Hebei were only 3 points clear of the relegation zone at the start of the matchweek. Meanwhile, Beijing Renhe were desperate for some points to try and avoid what is looking like an inevitable relegation. Lavezzi forced a good save from Beijing Renhe’s keeper Mou Pengfei in the 25th minute. Argentinian Augusto Fernandez scored the opener for Beijing, timing his run well from a corner. Hebei fired back in the 32nd minute after a penalty was given for a foul on a corner melee. Lavezzi stepped up and equalized for Hebei. The winner came in the 79th minute as Dong Xuesheng slotted a neat first time finish into the bottom left to secure the points for Hebei.
Tianjin Tianhai drew with Shanghai Shenhua 2-2. Gio Moreno opened the scoring for Shanghai Shenhua nodding down a Stephan El Shaarawy corner delivery. Tianjin Tianhai equalized through Yang Xu in the 49th minute, with an instinctive first time finish. El Shaarawy scored in the 58th minute, his first goal for the club, after looking lively throughout the match, and propelling his team forward. Then in the 72nd minute, Tianjin were given a lifeline, as Renatinho converted a penalty to level the match at 2-2. Still, it was a valuable point gained for Tianjin Tianhai, who are level on points with Shenzhen FC, although Shenzhen have a game in hand.
Wuhan Zall beat Shandong Luneng 2-1. Brazilian midfielder Moisés opened the scoring for Shandong Luneng, after Song Zhiwei played a weak back pass to his keeper. Moisés easily stole in ahead of the keeper and tapped into an empty net. However Wuhan battled back in the match, physically competing with the likes of Marouane Fellaini in the Shandong midfield. Wuhan got their reward when Ming Tian scored in the 23rd minute, after a flurry of chances in quick succession. Ming Tian then showcased another brilliant piece of skill, taking on two defenders, nutmegging one, and putting in a brilliant cross for Liu Yun to smash in. This brilliant goal would prove to be the winner, as Wuhan claimed a deserved 2-1 win over Shandong.
OFF THE PITCH:
Former Shanghai SIPG striker and all-time leading scorer Wu Lei scored for his new club RCD Espanyol in the Europa League against Swiss club FC Luzern, nodding home a fine header to open the scoring in what would eventually be a 3-0 win. The Nanjing native is proving that those players who can excel in the Chinese Super League can bring their talents to the bright lights of the European continent. Chinese football fans will be expecting bigger things from Wu Lei in his first full season in Spain, and perhaps other promising Chinese attacking talent like Wei Shihao could look to Wu Lei as an example of China successfully exporting their footballing talent. Meanwhile, China national team coach Marcello Lippi hasn’t called up Wu Lei for the sides WC Qualifier against the Maldives in September in an effort to give Wu Lei rest and ensure he is at peak fitness for the more difficult matches.
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This week’s Pandaily Player of the Week is Shanghai Shenhua’s Stephan El Shaarawy. With a goal and an assist in the 2-2 draw with Tianjin Tianhai, El Shaarawy was the driving force behind his team’s attacking play. He delivered an inch perfect corner for Shanghai’s first goal, and showed his pace and quality to pounce and volley home the second goal. He was constantly creating throughout and is looking like the prodigious talent that came through at AC Milan and forged his path into the Italian national team. Nicknamed “The Pharaoh” for his Egyptian heritage, El Shaarawy will be crucial to Shanghai Shenhua’s future as they look to reclaim their rightful place towards the top of the table next season. Until then the Italian will have time to settle into the new county and surroundings.