19 October 2014 19:12
Guangzhou Evergrande moved to within touching distance of a fourth consecutive Chinese Super League title with a 2-1 win at Guizhou Renhe.
The defending champions were made to work hard for their victory by the hosts, who took the lead courtesy of Chen Jie’s deflected 24th-minute opener on Saturday.
But Marcello Lippi’s side, who came into the game on the back of an eight-game league winning streak, fought back two minutes before half-time thanks to Zhang Linpeng’s well-taken strike.
The momentum predictably began to shift in Evergrande’s favour from that point, and they took a deserved lead 10 minutes from time courtesy of Elkeson’s superb volley.
It was the Brazilian’s 27th goal of the season, seeing him surpass the CSL goalscoring record set by former Shandon Luneng striker Li Jinyu in 2006.
There was a sour note for the hosts deep into stoppage time, as Sun Jihai was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Evergrande rarely looked troubled, maintaining a six-point lead at the top of the table to all but confirm their status as champions.
Lippi’s side can now clinch the title if they avoid defeat at home to second-placed Beijing Guoan next weekend.
Their title win would have been confirmed but for Guoan’s 2-1 win away to Hangzhou on Sunday, which was sealed thanks to Pablo Batalla’s last-minute winner, after Zhang Xizhe had earlier cancelled out Anselmo Ramon’s first-half opener for the hosts.
Hangzhou’s defeat was added to by a red card for Cao Xuan, who was sent off in injury time.
Elsewhere, Shandong Luneng were held to a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to fellow AFC Champions League hopefuls Guangzhou R and F, while Jiangsu Sainty are now four games without a win after a 1-1 draw at home to Shanghai Shenhua.
At the other end of the table, Harbin Yiteng saw their maiden CSL season end in relegation, despite battling back to claim a 1-1 draw at home to Shanghai SIPG, ending the visitors’ slim hopes of an Champions League spot.
A brace from Wang Yun eased Shanghai Shenxin’s relegation fears, inspiring them to a late 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Henan Jianye and ending a run of five games without a victory in the process.
Jianye now sit second from bottom in the table, two points adrift of Dalian Aerbin, who conceded a late penalty to lose 2-1 at Tianjin Teda.
Aerbin will have to pick themselves up quickly as they face a potential relegation decider at home to Liaoning Whowin, who secured a convincing 3-1 win over Changchun Yatai to lift them out of the relegation zone.