Evergrande goes joint second with Shenhua win
Guangzhou Evergrande eased past Shanghai Greenland Shenhua 3-0 at Hongkou Football Stadium on Monday, in the last game of the 15th round of the 2019 Chinese Super League.
With the three points from its trip to Shanghai, Fabio Cannavaro’s team shares second place in the CSL standing with defending champion Shanghai SIPG on 37 points — two points behind leader Beijing Guoan.
Shenhua lies third-last in the 16-team table on 12 points with exactly half of the season gone. The club had sparked relegation worries among its fans when it placed second-last on 9 points after 13 rounds. A 1-0 victory over Jiangsu Suning in Nanjing last week served as a tonic for its supporters. But despite the team’s new-found confidence, Shenhua hardly represented a threat to the seven-time CSL champion.
Evergrande’s opener came 11 minutes into the match. Wei Shihao’s attempt was blocked by Shenhua goalkeeper Chen Zhao, who, however, could not deny a follow-up shot by another Evergrande striker Yan Dinghao. Wei, a former SIPG forward, found the back of the net himself with a quality long-range shot from top of the box in the 37th.
The in-form Wei completed his brace six minutes after the break to enlarge Evergrande’s advantage while the hosts were finding it difficult to break through their opponent’s defense in the absence of top striker Odion Ighalo, who was called by the Nigerian national team for the ongoing African Cup of Nations.
Shenhua is one point above the relegation spots, which are currently occupied by Beijing Renhe (11 points) and Tianjin Tianhai (10). The club will need at least six victories in the second half of the season to assure its top-tier survival next season.
With the CSL summer transfer window opening on Monday, Shenhua has been working hard to introduce new foreign players, which, many experts believe, is the most efficient way to help the team climb up the table.
Shenhua’s next CSL match will be a derby clash against SIPG at Shanghai Stadium on Saturday. SIPG trashed its city rival 4-0 in their first meeting of the season in March.
SIPG edged Shenzhen FC 1-0 away on Sunday, thanks to a second-half goal from Brazil playmaker Oscar. Vitor Pereira’s team has been on a good run, having eliminated K League side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors for a spot in the last eight of the AFC Champions League last week.
Battling on three fronts, also including the CFA Cup, SIPG has been hampered by injury woes recently, especially in defense.
“If you look at our injury list through the first half of the season, you will realize it (second place in the standing) was not easy,” said Pereira. “To play on three fronts is tiring, but I’m happy with my players’ performance up till now.”
In other 15th round matches, Shandong Luneng beat leader Beijing Guoan 2-0 to slow down the latter’s march towards the title. Tianjin Tianhai drew 2-2 with Jiangsu Suning.
Dalian Yifang, which beat Beijing Renhe 3-1 over the weekend, on Monday announced the resignation of South Korean head coach Choi Kang-hee, citing personal reasons. The club, with ambitions of regaining its past stature as a top team in the domestic league, was reported to have offered a contract to former Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez, though whether any deal has been reached is yet to be confirmed.
Dalian is 10th in the standing on 17 points.