Xinjiang sprang the surprise of the round with a big win over Guangzhou Evergrande but there were shocks elsewhere too. Beijing BG set-up a fourth round derby with a win over Shijiazhuang Ever Bright, Shanghai Shenxin limped out on penalties to Hebei CFFC, Qingdao Jonoon continued their resurgence against Changchun Yatai and Jiangxi Liansheng humiliated Liaoning Whowin.
Xinjiang 2-1 Guangzhou Evergrande
The big story of the third round was undoubtedly Xinjiang’s victory over a much weakened Evergrande. Given that they were due to face Shanghai SIPG back in Guangdong just over 48 hour later, it is unsurprising that none of the CSL champion’s regular starters made the trip.
Head coach Fabian Cannavaro also remained in Guangzhou and so wasn’t there to witness veteran centre back Vicente give Xinjiang a first half lead. Zhang Jiaqi popped up to head in a late equaliser for the visitors but, with a penalty shoot-out looming, the referee adjudged that Li Shuai brought down Felipe Ferro and awarded Xinjiang a stoppage time penalty. The decision looked harsh and Evergrande’s back-up goalkeeper was also shown a red card for his troubles. Cristian Danalache converted the penalty to score his ninth goal in nine games this season and hand Xinjiang a famous victory.
Beijing BG 1-0 Shijiazhuang Ever Bright
In order for the Beijing derby to happen, BG also had to do their bit and they achieved that with a narrow victory over Shijiazhuang. A deflected second half goal from Godfred Karikari was enough to put the home side through in a contest which became increasingly bad tempered in the latter phases. It should be noted that Shijiazhuang put out a largely second string side but BG were also understrength and their manager Aleksander Stanojevic now faces a fourth round tie against the side he led in 2013.
Wuhan Xinjiyuan 1-6 Shandong Luneng
The third round wasn’t all upsets and narrow wins, however, as holders Luneng demolished amateur side Xinjiyuan. With the exception of their absent foreign players, Luneng fielded a very strong side and that was reflected in the scoreline as they proved to much for their opposition.
Zhang Chi, Zhao Mingjian, Yang Xu (twice), Han Peng and Zhang Wenzhao all got on the score sheet and Cuca demonstrated his intent to defend the trophy. Still, things didn’t go entirely to plan as Xinjiyuan goalkeeper Wu Shaojin denied Yang a hat-trick with a fine penalty save and substitute Si Jun grabbed a late consolation which clearly meant a lot to him and those in attendance.
Luneng will continue the defense of their trophy against Chongqing Lifan who defeated Dalian Aerbin 2-1. With these two sides swapping leagues at the end of last season, an Aerbin victory seemed very possible and they went into the break 1-0 up. However, Lifan were able to stage a second half fightback and advance to the last 16.
Meizhou Wuhua 0-2 Shanghai Shenhua
Goals from Wang Yun and Jiang Kun gave Shenhua a hard fought victory over League Two’s Meizhou Wuhua.
Although the visitors didn’t field any of their foreign stars (CL2 teams are not allowed to sign foreigners, so their cup opponents are not allowed to play Chinese players), they had a relatively strong line-up. This may in part be because Bai Jiajun, Li Jianbin and Lv Zheng are all suspended for the next CSL match but, either way, it meant Shenhua had enough about them to advance to the fourth round where they will take on Qingdao Jonoon.
The in-form League One side advanced courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Changchun Yatai. Dilimurat Batur scored the Shandong side’s only goal and Shenhua will not relish travelling to take on the former Super League stalwarts in July.
Dalian Transcendence 1-2 Shanghai SIPG
SIPG were also made to work hard to defeat League Two opposition as they had to come from behind against Transcendence. Quan Heng made up for some shocking early misses to put Dalian Shide’s ‘phoenix club’ in the lead, but goals from Li Haowen and He Guan were enough to turn the game in SIPG’s favour.
With the Shanghai derby just behind them and a huge game in Guangzhou against Evergrande on Friday, it was not surprising that Wu Lei, He Guan and Wang Jiajie were SIPG’s only regular starters to feature. Transcendence defended valiantly, with centre back Zhao Yibo worthy of special mention, but it was not enough and SIPG will now take on Guangzhou R&F in what is probably the fourth round’s biggest clash.
R&F booked their place in the last 16 thanks to a 1-0 win over Hohhot Zhongyou. A late goal from substitute Ye Chugui was enough to separate the sides and, based on early season form, R&F may well consider the CFA Cup their most viable route back into the AFC Champions’ League.
Elsewhere, the standout result is undoubtedly Jiangxi Liansheng’s 4-0 demolition of Liaoning Whowin. A rain-sodden hat-trick from Adi Rocha helped put the Super League, featuring many regular starters, well and truly out of the competition. In the fourth round, Jiangxi will host Guizhou Renhe who narrowly overcame League One strugglers Tianjin Songjiang 1-0.
Another game which saw a CSL side eliminated by League One opposition was Hebei CFFC vs Shanghai Shenxin. Neither side was able to score in the initial 90 minutes and that aversion to finding the net continued in the shoot-out which featured six missed penalties and was eventually won by Hebei 2-1.
Considering Shenxin’s woeful start to the season, that result can barely be considered an upset and Hebei will have a much tougher challenge in the fourth round when they take on Jiangsu Sainty. The 2014 runners-up fielded a very strong side against Guizhou Zhicheng and were rewarded with a comfortable 5-1 victory.
Things were far from comfortable for Hangzhou Greentown as their significantly weakened side needed penalties to get past amateur club Wuhan Hongxin. A spectacular free kick from Huang Lei earned Hongxin a 1-1 draw but they were unable to replicate last season’s shoot-out win over Shanghai SIPG as Hangzhou held their nerve to triumph 8-7.
Hangzhou’s fourth round opponents, Henan Jianye, had no such difficulties with amateur opposition as they eased past Anhui Litian 4-0. Goals from Yin Hongbo, Lei Yongchi, Xu Yang and Bi Jianhao gave last year’s quarter-finalists safe passage through to the round of 16.
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