It’s as you were at the top of the Chinese Super League after all three sides fighting for the title comfortably won over Matchday 17.
League leaders Beijing Guo’an hammered Chongqing Lifan 4-1 at the Workers’ Stadium whilst Elkeson’s first goal back in the red of Evergrande helped his new side to a 3-0 victory away at Tianjin Teda.
Reigning champions Shanghai SIPG ran out 3-0 winners at Jiangsu in a game that saw two Suning players receive their marching orders for horror challenges.
Beijing Guo’an 4-1 Chongqing Lifan
Beijing Guo’an maintained their two-point lead at the top thanks to a convincing 4-1 win at home over sixth-placed Chongqing Lifan.
Guo’an’s win came courtesy of goals from Piao Cheng, Jonathan Viera, Zhang Xizhe and Renato Augusto from the spot.
Despite an early goal for the visitors, the home were in control throughout and got back on level terms thanks to poor goalkeeping from Chongqing’s Sui Weijie.
A floated ball in from the left flank from Jin Taiyan was met by a header from Piao Cheng and went straight through Su Weijie. The effort was straight at the former Tianhai man who will surely feel like he should have stopped it.
A Shuai Yang handball saw the referee point to the spot just after the break and Renato Augusto duly obliged; coolly slotting home to the keeper’s left.
From there on out Guo’an continued to dominate and were 3-1 up after Jonathan Viera was the quickest to react in the area.
Superb work from Augusto down the right tied left back Liu Le in all sorts of knots, before a dangerous low delivery caused all sorts of havoc in the area before eventually falling to Spaniard Viera to stab home.
If that goal was rather fortunate, then the next was somewhat comical. Augusto hit a poor free kick into the wall that eventually fell to the feet of Zhang Xizhe on the penalty spot. The striker span and shot, seeing his effort deflect off the horde of bodies in his way and loop over a stranded Sui Weijie.
The visitors had taken an early lead after Alan Kardec latched onto a lovely ball from midfielder Adrian Mierzejewski before firing past Zou Dehai.
This early goal showed just what the visitors were about, according to Beijing boss Roger Schmidt.
“This is a very difficult game, Chongqing's counterattack had been very threatening, and they scored the first counterattack in the game.
“So, our game became even more difficult. We spent a lot of effort on the field pressing the opponent, forcing them to make mistakes, and then seizing the opportunity.”
That early goal was sadly the best it got to the visitors who stay drop down to sixth. Guo’an stay top on 45 points, two clear of the chasing pack.
Tianjin Teda 0-3 Guangzhou Evergrande
Elkeson’s return to Evergrande saw the Brazilian score a crucial second to kill the game off on his second debut for the Canton side.
He reopened his Evergrande account, after recently switching from Shanghai SIPG, just past the hour mark at the Water Drop Olympic Center.
Yan Dinghao put the Brazilian through with a lovely weighted through ball but the burly forward could only fire straight at Du Jia in the Teda net. The ball rebounded straight to Elkeson, who got to his feet, sold the Tianjin keeper with a beautiful feint and tapped in his ninth of the season – his first for his new club.
Yang Liyu had made it 1-0 somewhat against the run of play, driving in a superb effort as the ball fell to him on the edge of the box from a corner. The attacking midfielder’s strike went through the legs of Teda defender Yang Fan, before smashing in off the inside of the post.
Paulinho added gloss to the scoreline deep into second half injury time after he stabbed Zhang Xiuwei’s cross past Du Jia. The Brazilian had held the ball up brilliantly in the build-up, before playing it out wide to Zhang Xiuwei who put it on a plate for the former Barcelona man to wrap things up.
The scoreline flattered the seven-time CSL champions, as Tianjin's German striker Sandro Wagner squandered a number of good chances in the first half.
The closest he came was in the 12th minute when he saw his curling free kick come crashing back off Dianzuo Liu’s near post, but after that Tianjin’s talisman struggled in front of goal.
Fabio Cannavaro’s men stay second on 43 points whilst Tianjin Teda slip to ninth on 22 points.
Jiangsu Suning 0-3 Shanghai SIPG
Two horror challenges from Jiangsu Suning players overshadowed a dominant display from reigning champions Shanghai SIPG in Nanjing.
Goals from Hulk, Zhang Wei and an Oscar thunderbolt won it for Vítor Pereira’s side, in a game in which the referee ought to have blown for full time after just nine minutes.
An out-swinging Oscar corner moments in looked routine for keeper Gu Chao to either punch clear or catch; yet in the end he did neither, flapping at the ball, which fell straight to a grateful Hulk to fire his side into an early lead.
After just eight minutes, Ye Chongqiu’s high challenge on Shanggang’s Yang Shiyuan resulted in a lengthy stoppage in play before English referee Mark Clattenburg gave the Suning man his marching orders.
Jiangsu Suning fans, unhappy at the way the club is being ran, staged a protest at the game as only 18,336 were in attendance, with many turning their backs during the game.
Another goalkeeper mistake saw SIPG go 2-0 up on 17 minutes, as Gu Chao could only parry Hulk’s long-range effort into the path of the oncoming Zhang Wei for the full-back to score just his second of the season.
There was nothing the Suning stopper could have done with the third however, as Brazilian Oscar drilled a piledriver into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Hulk this time turned provider for Oscar, feeding the former Chelsea man a lovely through ball on the right, who had a touch to compose himself before almost taking the net off with a vicious effort.
Tempers had flared since the first whistle for the home side who now sit without a win in four, and the Nanjing outfit were down to nine men just past the hour mark.
Oscar skipped past Xie Pengfei in the middle of the park and the wide man was having none of it, cynically hacking down the SIPG star with a lunge from behind.
Jiangsu did have their chances, but Yan Junling was in inspired form, keeping out Eder on two occasions and denying a rasping drive from Xie Pengfei before the Suning man went for an early bath.
The result keeps SIPG third, just two points adrift of Beijing Guo’an, whilst Suning drop down to eighth.
Rafa Benitez’s start to life in China goes from strength to strength as his Dalian Yifang side overcame Guangzhou R&F thanks to a Yannick Carrasco brace in a 3-2 win.
Shanghai Shenhua slumped to their 11th league defeat in just 17 games, after throwing away a one goal lead to Hebei CFFC who won it late on. 2-1.
Henan Jianye recorded a surprise 3-2 victory over Shandong Luneng whilst Wuhan Zall picked up a 2-0 win at now bottom club Beijing Renhe.
Tianjin Tianhai’s 2-2 home draw with Shenzhen was enough to see them move off the foot of the table.
[Cover image via @sipg_fc on Instagram]