Shenhua falters, Evergrande stays top after SIPG draw

Ma Yue
Shanghai Greenland Shenhua lost 1-2 to Beijing Guo’an at Hongkou Football Stadium in the Chinese Super League while Shanghai SIPG holds defending champion Guangzhou Evergrande 2-2.
Ma Yue
Imaginechina

Shanghai SIPG striker Hulk shoots at goal during the Chinese Super League match against Guangzhou Evergrande at Shanghai Stadium on July 22, 2017. The match ended 2-2.

Shanghai Greenland Shenhua lost 1-2 to long-term rival Beijing Guo’an at Hongkou Football Stadium in the Chinese Super League yesterday.

Local rival Shanghai SIPG, however, came back twice to hold defending champion Guangzhou Evergrande 2-2 at Shanghai Stadium on Saturday, thanks to a Wu Lei brace. Evergrande maintained its lead atop the CSL standing, with a one-point advantage over SIPG after 18 rounds of matches.

At Hongkou, Spain striker Jonathan Soriano put Beijing ahead in the 31st minute, though the hosts reacted quickly with captain Giovanni Moreno scoring the equalizer on an assist by Cao Yunding two minutes later.

Beijing was given a penalty just one minute into the second half when the ball hit the arm of Shenhua defender Bi Jinhao who was lying on the ground. Soriano scored from the spot.

Shenhua’s Argentina striker Tevez hit the bar in the 53rd. Both sides created several more chances but couldn’t score.

Shenhua head coach Gus Poyet said it was a disappointing result but did not comment much on the match. “We had chances to win the game. We have to work hard next to prepare for the match next week, that’s it,” the Uruguayan said.

Shenhua now lies 11th in the standing on 20 points though it has played 17 games.

In Saturday’s focus match between SIPG and Evergrande, both sides took a cautious approach, with both Andre Villas-Boas (SIPG) and Luiz Felipe Scolari substituting their Under-23 players within 24 minutes after kickoff.

SIPG goalie Yan Junling assured a clean sheet until the half-time break despite continuous attempts by Evergrande’s Yu Hanchao, Ricardo Goulart, Alan Carvalho and Paulinho in the last 10 minutes of the half.

Alan Carvalho’s shot from top of the box gave Evergrande the lead six minutes into the second half, though Wu Lei equalized for the hosts just six minutes later. Yu Hanchao then scored Evergrande’s second goal in the 69th, and it was Wu again, who completed his brace in the 85th on an assist by Hulk.

The post-match press conference turned frosty when Scolari was asked by a local reporter if he thought Evergrande had 12 players taking on SIPG’s 11, hinting that referee Huang Yejun’s decisions were preferential to Evergrande.

“I did not see the 12th player, and if you did see that, you should have reported it to the referee,” scoffed the Brazilian, who later hinted that SIPG’s Hulk and Elkeson were interfering with the referees too much.

“There were six referees today — four referees plus Hulk and Elkeson. So that might be why you thought there were 12 players there,” he said.

AVB thought it was a fair result for an emotional game, as the draw ensured the gap between the two teams remained locked with 12 more rounds to go.

“Games like this can inspire us a lot and increase our confidence. I hope we can have a win in the next match instead of being comfortable with draws. Even if we had won, the league would still be open.”

The match was also considered a rehearsal for the team’s two-leg quarterfinal clash in the AFC Champions League. SIPG hosts the first leg on August 22 while the second leg is in Guangzhou on September 12.

“The ACL is a different story as the rules are different,” said the Portuguese. “We will have Oscar back and that is important for us.”

The match was attended by Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, who greeted fans and gifted signed balls to both teams before kickoff.

In Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, Fabio Capello finally got his first CSL victory after leading Jiangsu Suning in six matches.

After the 4-0 home victory over Liaoning Whowin, Suning lifted itself out of the relegation zone and now has 14 points — one point more than second-last placed Liaoning.

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