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Shandong snatch late victory again

For the second week running, runaway Chinese Super League leaders Shandong Luneng grabbed a victory with a last minute goal, during the weekend’s Chinese Super League fixtures.

Trailing 2-1 with only ten minutes remaining in their home match against Shenzhen on Saturday, the Jinan side equalized in the 80th minute through Han Peng, who scored his 14th of the season. And with just a minute left on the clock, Zhou Haibin struck the winner, to cancel out Vyacheslav Hleb’s opener and Kiwi striker Chris Killen’s debut goal for Shenzhen. Li Wei scored the other goal for Shandong.

This result was something of a dissapointment for second-placed Shenhua, who beat Jiangsu Shuntian 1-0 thanks to Jiang Kun’s close range volley. News had earlier spread around the terrace that Shandong were losing their match, giving Shenhua to close the gap to a more manageable six points. But it was not to be and with Shandong seemingly unstoppable, Shenhua are likely to slip up and bring the Chinese Super League 2010 title race to an official end soon enough.

There was a huge police presence at Hongkou on Saturday night, fearing a repeat of the bus window-smashing incident (check the video in this post) at the corresponding fixture in Nanjing earlier in the season. Despite the huge travelling support of over a thousand or so Jiangsu fans, your correspondent didn’t see any toe-to-toeing or other such rumpus break out between rival fans.

Elsewhere in the league on Saturday,  Brazilian striker José Filho Duarte scored a fantastic overhead kick (wait for the 2nd last goal) for Chongqing in their 3-2 victory over Nanchang, Tianjin got beat 3-4 at home to Dalian, whilst Henan were 1-0 victors over Shaanxi.

On Sunday, Shenhua fans consoled themselves in the knowledge that Beijing lost 1-0 on the road to relegation-threatened Changsha, Hangzhou beat Liaoning 2-1 to leapfrog their opponents into 3rd place, and Changchun grabbed a vital 1-0 victory away in beertown, Qingdao.

There’s now seven games left. The race for the last two Asian Champions League places is where the excitement is at now, plus Qingdao, Chongqing, Nanchang and free-falling Shenzhen are up to their necks in relegation mud.

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.

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