SIPG giving up on league after weekend defeat

SIPG is giving up on its title chase in the CSL after a 1-2 loss at Guizhou Hengfeng, which enlarged its deficit to leader Evergrande to eight points with seven more rounds to go.

Shanghai SIPG is giving up on its title chase in this year’s Chinese Super League after a demoralizing 1-2 defeat at Guizhou Hengfeng over the weekend, which allowed table-topper Guangzhou Evergrande to extend its lead at the top to eight points with seven more rounds to go.

Andre Villas-Boas’ team is on a terrible run in the domestic league, winning only one match in the last five rounds.

In Saturday’s match in Guiyang, southwest China's Guizhou Province, Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic opened the scoring for the hosts early in the second half. Striker Lu Wenjun leveled the score for SIPG in the 70th minute. But a last-minute strike from Wang Fan gave Guizhou all three points, much to the delight of its coach Gregorio Manzano, who was in charge of SIPG's city rival Shanghai Greenland Shenhua last season. His opposite number, Villas-Boas couldn't hide his disappointment.

“Obviously I am very disappointed. The league is finished for us, but we have to maintain our position (in the table), second or third, going forward to the last few games,” the Portuguese said. “It’s a big frustration for everybody. We worked hard to get to 1-1, but we gave away a very soft second goal.”

Evergrande claimed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Shenhua at Hongkou Football Stadium later on Saturday evening. Muriqui scored a brace, with Ricardo Goulart adding another one.

Evergrande’s World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, however, disagreed with Villas-Boas' assessment of his team's chances.

“I disagree with him (AVB),” said the Brazilian. “SIPG is of a similar quality as Evergrande, and we are facing each other in a very important match (AFC Champions League quarterfinal first leg) on Tuesday. I won’t take it easy despite what he said.

“There are 21 points left (in the league) to go, and we will go for every point until we eventually hold the trophy,” Scolari added.

Aiming for at least one title for the season, SIPG is shifting its focus to the Asian league and the CFA Cup, where it again faces Evergrande in the semifinals.

Evergrande leads the CSL table with 53 points, followed by SIPG (45) and Manuel Pellegrini's Hebei China Fortune (39).

Fabio Capello’s Jiangsu Suning, meanwhile, continued to climb up the table after a 4-0 victory against Yanbian Funde on Saturday. Jiangsu is now 12th in the standing on 21 points – three less than 11th-placed Shenhua.

Ti Gong

Shanghai SIPG striker Hulk (center) in action against Guizhou Hengfeng during their Chinese Super League match in Guiyang, southwest China's Guizhou Province, on August 19. SIPG lost 1-2.

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