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Looking back at final day title drama over the years

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.

1999
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?

2003
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.

2007
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.

2008
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.

2009
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.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. GZBiffo

    30/10/2014 at 22:27

    “While nothing has ever been proven, the 2007 title is one forever shrouded in controversy.”

    Care to elaborate? Nothing in the rest of the paragraph indicates a reason for any controversy.

    • bcheng

      31/10/2014 at 15:59

      There were some odd late season results for Changchun that year, gifted penalties or offside calls, etc. Ever since the end of the 2007 season there’s been talk that Changchun bought the league that year. Then in 2012 some of the corrupt referees that were caught up in the investigation were in charge of Changchun’s key late season matches. For whatever reason in the end I don’t think Changchun were punished (or they were only fined).

  2. Cameron Wilson

    31/10/2014 at 11:47

    Sorry Biffo, this is China, still another 3 years to go before you’ll find out that one.

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