Chinese Super League 2019 Weekly: Title Race Tightens, Zhang Inspires, Tianjin Keeper Suspended
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Wuhan Zall beat Guangzhou Evergrande 1-0. Wuhan continued their strong run of form by beating leaders Guangzhou Evergrande 1-0 in Guangzhou. Cannavaro’s league leading side have begun to falter and find themselves just one point ahead of Beijing Guoan with five matches remaining. Liu Yun struck the decisive blow for Wuhan on the hour mark, as he pounced on a rebound and fired in a side-footed volley to put his side in front 1-0. The lack of creativity at home would worry Guangzhou, as the title race intensifies, after Guangzhou recent falters, with no wins in their last 3 matches.
Beijing Guoan beat Tianjin Tianhai 3-0. Beijing Guoan capitalized on Guangzhou’s loss to Wuhan by thumping relegation threatened Tianjin Tianhai 3-0 in Tianjin. Following last week’s unconvincing performance against Shenzhen, the capital club regained their momentum for a late title challenge. Beijing provided an early warning sign when Zhang Xizhe was left unmarked at the back post in the 2nd minute, but put his shot just wide of the near post. In the 4th minute, Hou Yongyong skipped through the defense, benefiting from a deflection before scooping his finish past Tianjin keeper Sun Qibin. Zhang Yuning added the second goal for Beijing, rounding the keeper after some dreadful defending from Pei Shuai kept him onside. Zhang then set up Renato Augusto for a curling effort into the top corner, as the Brazilian added the third goal in injury time. Beijing are just one point back of leaders Guangzhou Evergrande with five matches to play.
Shanghai SIPG beat Henan Jianye 2-1. Shanghai looked to keep the pressure on Guangzhou Evergrande as the title race comes into its final stages. Shanghai’s Brazilian talisman Oscar put the hosts in front just before halftime with a brilliant struck free-kick in off the post. Fernando Karanga leveled for Henan just after the break with a smart finish from a Tim Chow assist. Just as the match seemed to be meandering to a draw, substitute Li Shenglong grabbed a late winner in injury time for Shanghai. The Shanghai native pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area before swiveling and placing a low drive past Henan’s keeper before wheeling away in celebration. A last minute winner for a hometown hero, Li Shenglong really is living the stuff of dreams.
Dalian Yifang beat Shenzhen FC 2-0. Rafa Benitez led his side to a home victory against struggling Shenzhen FC. In the 38th minute, Sun Guowen found Zheng Long unmarked in the box, and he guided his free header into the top right corner to give Dalian a 1-0 advantage. In the 79th minute, Wang Yaopeng drilled a low cross across the penalty area where fellow defender Dong Yanfeng was on hand to finish it off. It would end 2-0 to Dalian as Shenzhen are 1 point above Tianjin Tianhai in the battle to avoid relegation.
Hebei China Fortune beat Tianjin Teda 2-1. Hebei’s Fernandinho scored a header in the 23rd minute to his side ahead 1-0. Sandro Wagner scored an impressive header just before halftime, brilliantly directing his header from a diagonal down across goal to beat Chi Wenyi. Marcão grabbed a winner for Hebei in the 77th minute, curling an effort from the inside left inside the far post. The victory as significant for Hebei, as they put some more distance between themselves and the relegation scrap.
Jiangsu Suning beat Chongqing Lifan 2-1. Yin Congyao missed a golden chance to put Chongqing ahead just before halftime but his breakaway was saved by Jiangsu keeper Gu Chao, who continues his fine form. Jiangsu’s new signing, Croatian Ivan Santini, broke the deadlock in the 55th minute, winning a head in the area that just crossed the goal line. Santini was signed at the end of the transfer window from Belgium club Anderlecht. Xie Pengfei doubled Jiangsu’s advantage, collecting a long ball from Wu Xi and blasting his finish into the top left corner. Chongqing regained hope in the 81st minute through Jiang Zhe. His free-kick from nearly 40 yards out should’ve been easily held by Jiangsu keeper Gu Chao, but it went straight through his hands into the goal. However, the match would end 2-1, with Jiangsu continuing their fine form as they are unbeaten in 6 matches.
Shandong Luneng drew Shanghai Shenhua 2-2. Shandong drew first blood in the 7th minute, but it was through a horrific own goal from Zhang Chi, who stooped to head the ball inadvertently into his own net. Soon after, in the 11th minute, Cao Yunding blasted a rocket from outside the box in off the far post to double Shanghai’s lead. Shandong hit back in the 18th minute as Liu Binbin raced onto a through ball form Duan Liuyu to skip past the keeper and slot into an open net. Shandong found the equalizer in the 58th minute through a glancing Marouane Fellaini header.
OFF THE PITCH:
Tianjin Tianhai goalkeeper and captain Zhang Lu was suspended on Saturday by the CFA after he was caught driving while under the influence of alcohol. The 32-year-old was expelled from all CFA related activities, including the Chinese national team, and his club Tianjin Tianhai. The news comes as a blow to Tianjin Tianhai, who are mired in a difficult relegation battle. He is likely to face further punishment, in the form of fine, as former Tianjin Tianhai player Zhang Xiuwei was fined a sum equivalent to six months’ salary after a similar incident in 2017.
PANDAILY PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
This week’s Pandaily Player of the Week is Beijing Guoan’s Zhang Yuning. With the absence of Cedric Bakambu in the Beijing Guoan squad, Zhang Yuning stepped up in a big way. The big target man scored a great goal, laid off a nice assist for Augusto and was generally threatening throughout. Just 22 years-old, Zhang Yuning has spent some of his formative playing years abroad. He spent time on loan in Holland with Vitesse Arnhem, ADO Den Haag, and West Brom in England while also spending some time at Werder Bremen in Germany. While these were not hugely successful spells, he looks to be an accomplished front man. He is a complete player with a strong frame and good link up play. He has 10 caps for the Chinese national team already, scoring twice. The Zhejiang native is one of China’s brightest young talents who will look take his chances in Beijing Guoan’s starting lineup whenever he can.