Chinese Super League: after seven years of Evergrande dominance, new champions are crowned as Shanghai SIPG sputter over the line
- Shanghai land a first CSL title
- Relegation dogfight remains wide open
There are new champions of the Chinese Super League for the first time since the 2011 season and there is a new name on the trophy, too. Shanghai SIPG needed a point and got three by beating Beijing Renhe 2-1 and as unconvincing as it was at times it hardly mattered to the players or the fans once the final whistle went.
It also didn’t much matter as seven-time champions Guangzhou Evergrande rolled over away at relegation strugglers Chongqing Lifan. The 2-0 win meant that the Shanghai side won the league regardless and now have an eight-point lead at the top with one game left. If they were to win the title by 11 points then the table will not tell the true story of a season that saw the top two divided by two points with three games left.
Wins for Shandong Luneng – 3-2 at home to Jiangsu Suning – and for Beijing Guoan – also 3-2 winners over Shanghai Shenhua in the China Derby – ensures that the top four is decided. With Beijing Guoan and Shandong Luneng playing in the Chinese FA Cup final, which guarantees an AFC Champions League group stage spot, all four teams are guaranteed a place in next season’s continental competition but the winner of the FA Cup will avoid playing the qualifying game.
Jiangsu Suning’s slim hopes of catching Guoan were extinguished last night and they will finish fifth.
Mid-table mediocrity is ensured for Shanghai Shenhua, Hebei China Fortune, promoted side Beijing Renhe and Guangzhou R&F.
Who finishes sixth is up for grabs as only two points separate those four clubs.
At the bottom end of the table. Henan Jianye’s 4-0 hammering of already relegated Guizhou Zhicheng means that they are safe. Tianjin Quanjian are also safe. Their 2-2 draw away at Changchun Yatai puts them on 33 points, only one more than the four teams immediately below them, but their superior head-to-head record means they cannot go down.
CSL 2018 Round 29: Chongqing Lifan 2:0 Guangzhou Evergrande. Fernando Henrique made 1 assist &1 goal as the hero. Paulinho's goal in the 49' was chalked off by VAR. Feng Xiaoting was sent off. Chongqing extinguished Evergrande's last hope and a huge step in the relegation battle. pic.twitter.com/udKm2nAsx4
— Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) November 7, 2018
Head-to-head results are the decisive factor in separating teams with equal points in China and that is likely to come into play on Sunday to decide who joins Guizhou in going down.
It’s simple for Dalian Yifang, Chongqing Lifan, Changchun Yatai and Tianjin Teda: win and stay up.
But they might not have their fate in their own hands.
Dalian are in the most jeopardy because of their terrible record against fellow relegation rivals and they will go down if they draw with Changchun but Teda and Chongqing both pick up points. Elsewhere, Teda can lose to Guangzhou Evergrande so long as Dalian vs Changchun produces a winner. It really is all to play for.
Sunday’s big matches
Chongqing Lifan vs Guizhou Zhicheng
Dalian Yifang vs Changchun Yatai
Tianjin Teda vs Guangzhou Evergrande