Evergrande clinches 7th straight CSL title

Guangzhou Evergrande was crowned the 2017 Chinese Super League champion two rounds in advance after a 5-1 home victory over Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng on Sunday.

Guangzhou Evergrande players celebrate a goal against Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng during their Chinese Super League match in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, on October 22, 2017. Evergrande won 5-1 to clinch a seventh straight CSL title.

Guangzhou Evergrande was crowned the 2017 Chinese Super League champion two rounds in advance after a 5-1 home victory over Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng on Sunday. It was the club’s seventh straight domestic title.

The defending champion held a six-point advantage over Shanghai SIPG before the match. SIPG’s 1-2 defeat to another Guangzhou team, R&F, allowed Evergrande to maintain its top position in this year’s CSL table, nine points ahead of SIPG with just two rounds to go.

Gao Lin, Alan Carvalho, Yu Hanchao and Muriqui scored for Evergrande, while Guizhou’s Du Wei scored an own goal in the second half.

Evergrande head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari sat out Sunday's match as part of the three-match CSL ban imposed on him by the Chinese Football Association on Saturday.

The Brazilian, whose contract is up at the end of the season, was also fined 15,000 yuan (US$2,266) for his actions where he “entered the pitch, condemned the referee and interfered with the match” in the 94th minute of the CSL match against Yanbian Funde on October 13, which Evergrande won 4-3.

According to Guangzhou media, China’s most successful football club has already zeroed in on a new manager to replace the World Cup-winning coach, who joined Evergrande in June 2015. Scolari won three league titles, the 2015 AFC Champions League, the 2016 CFA Cup and two CFA Super Cup crowns during his two-year stint.

Also missing Sunday’s match was SIPG manager Andre Villas-Boas, who is serving a four-match suspension.

Facing SIPG at Shanghai Stadium, R&F’s Jiang Jihong scored the opener with a header during a corner just four minutes into kickoff. R&F thought it had scored again in the 16th but Renatinho’s goal was ruled off side.

SIPG’s chance came in the 22nd when Hulk was tackled by R&F goalie Cheng Yuelei in the box. However, the Brazilian’s shot from the penalty spot was parried by Cheng.

Israel midfielder Eran Zahavi doubled the advantage for R&F four minutes after the break with a shot from top of the box. It was the CSL top scorer’s 26th goal for his team.

Hulk pulled one back for SIPG in the 60th with his 14th league goal this year. Both goalkeepers then made a string of impressive saves to keep the score unchanged.

SIPG stayed second in the standings on 55 points — six more than third-placed Hebei China Fortune. Villas-Boas' team has only got the CFA Cup to play for, having already exited the AFC Champions League in the semifinal stage.

SIPG faces fierce local rival Shanghai Greenland Shenhua next month over two legs in the CFA Cup final.

Shenhua drew 1-1 with Chongqing Lifan in another Sunday match. It sits 12th in the 16-team CSL table on 29 points.

Yanbian and Liaoning Whowin were relegated to the second-tier league after losing their 28th-round CSL matches on Saturday. Liaoning lost 1-3 to Shandong Luneng to sit at the bottom of the table on 18 points, while Yanbian lost 1-2 to Henan Jianye to place second-last with 19 points.

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