SIPG misses another chance to go top of CSL

Shanghai SIPG misses another chance to take over the top spot from Guangzhou Evergrande after a deflating 1-2 loss to Shandong Luneng in Jinan in the Chinese Super League.
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Shanghai SIPG striker Wu Lei (center) scores the first goal against Shandong Luneng.during their 19th round Chinese Super League match in Jinan, Shandong Province, on July 30, 2017. SIPG lost 1-2.

Shanghai SIPG missed another chance to take over the top spot from Guangzhou Evergrande after a deflating 1-2 loss to Shandong Luneng in the Chinese Super League in Jinan last night.

Evergrande surprisingly slumped 2-4 at city rival Guangzhou R&F in an earlier Saturday match, handing Andre Villas-Boas’ team the perfect opportunity to gain an upper hand in their fight for the title since SIPG was just one point behind the defending champion.

Carrying a strong desire for victory into the match, SIPG striker Wu Lei put the visitors ahead 22 minutes after kickoff on an assist from Odil Ahmedov. The hosts’ equalizer came from a corner in the 69th, with midfielder Jin Jingdao heading the ball into the net.

Felix Magath’s team found even better pace in the second half, dashing SIPG’s hopes for all three points with a last-minute goal. Graziano Pelle’s header in the 87th hit SIPG’s bar before teammate Wu Xinghan collected the ball and scored the decider.

SIPG continues to sit second in the league table on 40 points  — one less than Evergrande — with 11 more rounds to go.

Villas-Boas’ team will take on Fabio Cannavaro’s Tianjin Quanjian at Shanghai Stadium twice this week — a CFA Cup quarterfinal second-leg match on Thursday and the 20th-round CSL clash on Sunday.

However, the Portuguese is serving a two-match ban in the CFA Cup for “improper comments” after their first-leg quarterfinal in Tianjin on July 19, which SIPG lost 0-3.

AVB will serve for the first match ban on Thursday. If SIPG is eliminated from the CFA Cup, the second match ban will be applied to Sunday’s league match.

In another Saturday match, Shanghai Greenland Shenhua rallied from a 0-2 deficit to stun Manuel Pellegrini’s Hebei China Fortune 3-2 at Hongkou Football Stadium, thanks to a brace from captain Giovanni Moreno and a goal by Obafemi Martins.

40-yard scorcher

A 40-yard scorcher by Ivory Coast striker Gervinho gave the visitors a 4th-minute lead. Dong Xuesheng doubled the advantage 20 minutes later.

Shenhua’s rally began in the last 30 minutes after Gus Poyet sent midfielders Cao Yunding and Sun Shilin onto the pitch. Moreno headed in Shenhua’s first goal in the 60th on an assist by Cao. Sixteen minutes later, Cao’s accurate long pass found Moreno again, who leveled the score.

Martins’ decider just one minute later completed Shenhua’s comeback. It was the first time that Shenhua had beaten a higher ranked opponent in this year’s CSL.

“I knew before the match that there would be a lot of goals since both teams have an unsteady defense,” Poyet said in his post-match comments.

“After Hebei’s early goal, our players became nervous and conceded the second goal. During the half-time break, I asked the players to stick to our own pace. A comeback in a match like this boosts the team’s confidence a lot,” the Uruguayan added.

With the brace, Moreno now has 12 league goals this season.

“I care more about the team’s performance than the number of goals I score. That’s why I have stayed with the team for such a long time,” said the Colombian.

Shenhua is now 9th in the 18-team standing with 23 points.

Fabio Capello’s Jiangsu Suning, meanwhile, is slowly climbing up the table. It won it’s second straight match on Saturday; 2-1 away to Chongqing Lifan. Jiangsu now lies 14th with 17 points.

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