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Guangzhou Evergrande edge closer to Chinese Super League title but there’s drama at both ends – and more to come

  • Live broadcast of champions upset viewers in England
  • Shanghai SIPG rue disallowed goal that reduces lead to two points
PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 October, 2018, 12:20pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 October, 2018, 9:24pm

The Chinese Super League had some English football fans up in arms over the weekend.

British satellite broadcaster Sky Sports opted to show Guangzhou Evergrande play Beijing Renhe on its dedicated football channel on Saturday lunchtime (UK time) over Leeds United visiting Blackburn Rovers.

Fans of the Championship rivals could watch their early kick-off via the red button but were angered that this meant a worse camera angle and less of the glamour of a full broadcast.

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While Blackburn overcame Marcelo Biesla’s Leeds side 2-1 at Ewood Park, the game at Tianhe Stadium was infinitely more entertaining in terms of goals. The Chinese Super League champions put six past the newly promoted side and piled the pressure on league leaders Shanghai SIPG who played 24 hours later.

With the Shanghai side’s lead at the top reduced to a single point, they knew what they needed to do away to Jiangsu Suning.

What happened in Nanjing means that this is a proper title race now.

The visitors were missing star forward Hulk from the line-up and manager Vitor Pereira from the dugout, the first of a three-game suspension for the coach.

On the pitch, SIPG thought they had taken the lead through a header from Lu Wenjun but it was pulled back for an offside call against the crosser Wu Lei.

Lu posted an image of Wu that showed him onside on his Sina Weibo after the game but both teams had penalty shouts turned down and a goalless draw was not unjust.

The result reduced the gap between the top two to just two points with four games left but this game will not be where the league is won and lost.

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That is the next couple of games – one of those games sees the league leaders and champions face off in Guangzhou on November 3.

The CSL is now more intense than any CFA mandated boot camp, and not just at the top.

Fifth placed Jiangsu Suning have only recently secured CSL status for another season but many others remain at risk of relegation.

It is impossible to call at both ends of the table as the campaign reaches a dramatic conclusion.

There was a reason former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson referred to the final few weeks of the season as “squeaky bum time”.

After yet another whacky move it’s time to ask: why can’t the Chinese Football Association stop shooting itself in the foot?

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Bottom club Guizhou Zhicheng beat Dalian Aerbin 3-0 at home to continue the form that has seen them get four of their six victories this season in the last eight games.

The teams that they have beaten in that time include Shandong Luneng, Beijing Guoan and Tianjin Teda.

Guizhou’s recent run should give SIPG hope.

The bottom club host Evergrande next week while SIPG face a Shandong side that Guizhou have beaten.

As it is, it is impossible to predict anything at this stage of the season.

Look at the 4-4 draw between Chongqing Lifan and Hebei China Fortune.

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Hebei thought they had won it with a 90th minute goal to put them 4-2 up. But a red card for Wang Qiuming two minutes later was followed by two Alan Kardec goals for the host in the 95th and 97th minutes.

There was also late drama in the 1-1 draw at a smoggy Workers’ Stadium.

Changchun Yatai were winning 1-0 away to Beijing Guoan until as late as the 100th minute when Jonathan Soriano put away a penalty to equalise. Visiting defender Jiang Zhe was sent off two minutes earlier.

A win would have helped Changhun Yatai towards safety but these are fine margins.

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Guangzhou R&F are not out of trouble and will hope the return of Eran Zahavi helps arrest their slide while second-bottom Henan Jianye, who beat R&F 2-0 on Sunday, will look to do better than Changchun when they face Beijing Guoan next weekend.

Chongqing and both Tianjin sides are also not yet safe, with one win capable of making all the difference down at the bottom, just as it could at the top.

With four more games and everything to play for, there’s every chance of a miracle and every reason to keep watching.

Even over Leeds against Blackburn.

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