Sunday marks the end of the 2014 Chinese Super League season and sees the title race come down to the season’s final day for only the sixth time since the start of professional football in China. Let’s take a look back at those previous final days.
Shandong Luneng P26 W13 D9 L4 PTS48
Liaoning Fushun P26 W13 D8 L5 PTS47
Looking back at that Liaoning side, its amazing their best finish was second place. A quick glance at the names and you get an idea how amazing it was: Li Jinyu, Li Tie, Zhang Yuning, Qu Shengqing, and Zhao Junzhe, all at their prime or growing into it.
On the final day, Shandong hosted last place Wuhan while Liaoning went to midtable Beijing Guoan. Shandong dominated their match, going into the half with a 3-0 lead while Liaoning was also up 1-0. While Shandong was cruising to an easy victory in Jinan, late in the second half Gao Leilei equalized for Guoan. The match at Gongti ended in a draw and Shandong took the title. Now 15 years later, will Shandong return the favor for Guoan?
Shanghai Shenhua P28 W17 D4 L6 PTS55
Shanghai Inter P28 W16 D6 L5 PTS54
The less said about this one the better, due to the corruption of both the Shanghai clubs, there’s no winner of the 2003 season in the record books. Shenhua bought a controversial win over Inter a few weeks before the final round, but on the last day, Inter could still win the title. Shenhua travelled to fourth place Shenzhen while Inter hosted Tianjin. Shenzhen jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, led by a Li Yi hat trick they won easily, 4-1 while a mediocre Tianjin side was able to beat Inter 2-1, Inter’s lone goal a 90th minute consolation. With neither team able to secure even a point on the final day, the title went to Shenhua, until it was taken away due to match fixing.
Changchun Yatai P28 W16 D7 L5 PTS55
Beijing Guoan P28 W15 D9 L4 PTS54
After a number of years without a close title race, 2007 began a series of last day drama. Four rounds before the final day, Beijing hosted Changchun and on a cold, rainy night, Changchun came away with all three points, scoring a 78th minute winner. On the final day, leaders Changchun travelled to second to last (but safe as only one side went down) Shenzhen while Guoan faced off against third place Shandong. While Guoan eeked out a 1-0 win over Shandong, there was never a chance they could make up the difference, Changchun jumped out to a four goal lead over Shenzhen and took them down 4-1. While nothing has ever been proven, the 2007 title is one forever shrouded in controversy.
Shandong Luneng P30 W18 D9 L3 PTS63
Shanghai Shenhua P30 W17 D10 L3 PTS61
Shenhua’s lead disappeared on the penultimate day of the season when they only managed a draw at Dalian, while a Shandong victory meant they’d go into the final day with the lead. On the final day, Shandong pulled out a 0-0 draw against Guangzhou, while Shenhua was up 2-1 against Hangzhou, that is until a 77th minute equalizer that ended their title hopes.
Beijing Guoan P30 W13 D12 L5 PTS51
Changchun Yatai P30 W14 D8 L8 PTS50
Henan Jianye P30 W13 D9 L8 PTS48
Shandong Luneng P30 W11 D12 L7 PTS45
The final day of the 2009 season was one for a mathematician as four sides all had a shot at the title going into it. Beijing had been leading things for much of the year, but mid season struggles were cause for concern until they managed to get back into first place, by only the thinnest margin, in round 26. While there were all different possibilities, Beijing controlled its own destiny. A win at home against Hangzhou would send that side down and give Guoan its first ever league title. Shandong and Henan both failed to make things interesting, losing to Chengdu and Shenzhen respectively, and while Changchun managed a 3-2 victory over Chongqing, it was all for naught as Beijing won handily by a score of 4-0 over Hangzhou, allowing the capital side to celebrate its first title.