The first week of the Chinese Super League is over and there were plenty of interesting results for teams in both Group A and B.
Eight matches in total were played in empty stadiums across Dalian and Suzhou, the two host cities for the 2020 season.
There were plenty of goals and one or two upsets along the way, so enjoy the first week’s round-up of matches in the Chinese Super League.
Guangzhou Evergrande 2-0 Shanghai Shenhua
The reigning league champions kicked off the 2020 season in style against the reigning Chinese FA Cup champions, seeing the former secure all three points thanks to two goals from Wei Shihao.
For a full, in-depth look at the opening match of the season, read here.
Wuhan Zall 2-0 Qingdao Huanghai
Last season’s China League One champions began their season in the top flight with a difficult challenge against Wuhan, a team that had finished an impressive sixth in the 2019 CSL campaign.
Liu Yun was responsible for the ‘home’ side securing all three points in their opener, seeing his 30th-minute shot deflected off defender Yaki Yen before he earned the team’s second early into the second half.
This was always going to be a difficult matchup for Pablo Machín’s Qingdao side, who are viewed by many as being one of the favourites for relegation this season.
The decision to use 35-year-old Liu Zhenli in goal is an interesting one for Qingdao, with the former Qingdao Jonoon and Shandong Luneng stopper having not played a single minute of professional football since 2017.
One of the two newest teams in the league have plenty of work to do ahead of their clash with Shijiazhuang on Saturday.
Dalian Professional 2-3 Shandong Luneng
A close match between two well-established teams in the top tier, it required a Marouane Fellaini hat trick to secure Shandong all three points after Salomon Rondon netted from inside the box just before the hour mark.
Marcus Danielson scored a 93rd-minute consolation for Rafa Benitez’ side, but with Shandong scoring three headed goals within seven minutes, it just wasn’t their day.
Shandong dominated possession, with 58% and 541 passes, but struggled with just four of their shots being on target. Both sides showed clear signs of rust, but should grow as each match passes
Hebei China Fortuna 2-2 Shijiazhuang Ever Bright
The only draw of the opening round of matches came as Shijiazhuang, recently promoted from China League One, managed to hold off a ten-man Hebei side that featured the recently signed Ricardo Goulart.
Ding Haifeng’s red card in the 26th minute of the match allowed Shijiazhuang much more space, with their defensive 4-5-1 system keeping the experienced top tier side at bay.
The ‘away’ side struck first through Wang Peng but were unable to maintain the lead heading into half time after Marcao netted after one minute of added time.
Despite being a man down, Hebei kept on pressing forward and took the lead through Dong Xuesheng at the hour mark. Shijiazhuang, however, struck back just six minutes later thanks to 37-year-old Brazilian striker Mattheus.
Shenzhen FC 3-0 Guangzhou R&F
Arguably the biggest upset of the first round came as Shenzhen, who only escaped relegation thanks to Tianjin Tianhai’s dissolution before the 2020 season, routed Guangzhou R&F for a convincing 3-0 victory.
Shenzhen, prior to their reinstatement to the CSL, were clear favourites to win promotion from China League One after a slew of signings of veteran top tier players, including Gao Lin, Pei Shuai and, once Tianhai’s fate was confirmed, Sun Ke.
These signings helped Roberto Donadoni’s side earn a statement victory over Guangzhou R&F, who boasted the league’s top goalscorer, Eran Zahavi, in the starting line-up.
An own-goal from centre-back Li Songyi got things underway for south coast side after less than half an hour, before Harold Preciado and Gao Lin both converted penalties after 64 and 70 minutes respectively.
Discipline will be a top priority for new R&F boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who will believe that his side could have taken something out of the match had they not conceded two penalties.
Chongqing Lifan 1-2 Beijing Guo’an
Beijing Guo’an got their season underway in interesting fashion, thanks largely to a 2-1 victory over Chongqing Lifan, but mainly due to the fact that all goals were scored by their players AND they played the majority of the match with just ten men.
Yang Fan saw red after just 25 minutes into their opening match, but the Imperial Guards continued to show their defensive quality over Chongqing, maintaining 55% of possession while struggling with chances in front of goal.
Left-back Li Lei scored after 50 minutes before central midfielder Piao Cheng sealed the deal after 66 minutes, with both goals coming after Beijing only had seven total shots, three on target, in the entire match.
Chongqing, meanwhile, appeared to aim for quantity over quality from their attacking chances, with 15 shots in the match and only one of them being on target.
The one shot ended up being counted as a Yu Dabao own-goal in the 80th minutes and wasn’t enough for the ‘home’ side to try and take some points away from the capital city club.
Henan Jianye 3-4 Jiangsu Suning
A goalfest was witnessed when Henan Jianye faced off against Jiangsu Suning in their opening match, seeing the sides both leading at different stages.
Brazilian striker Henrique Dourado had himself an impressive match and may have believed he had done enough to secure his team the win after opening the scoring in the sixth minute, adding a second goal three minutes before the half.
Unfortunately for him, Henan had a torrid eight-minute period that saw them collapse and gift Jiangsu with goals from Xie Pengfei (61′), Eder (65′, penalty) and Ivan Santini (69′).
Now down 3-2, Henan continued to fight on, but Jiangsu extended their lead, albeit very briefly, through a 79th Wu Xi goal. One minute later, Henan pulled themselves back within one through Ke Zhao.
It wasn’t enough though, with Jiangsu showing their class throughout the game to hold their opponents at bay. They dominated possession with 62% and had seven shots on target out of the 13 they took in total, securing all three points.
Tianjin TEDA 1-3 Shanghai SIPG
The final match of the season saw Tianjin TEDA slumped to a 3-1 defeat after starting very brightly against Shanghai SIPG.
Rong Hao got things underway after just six minutes, much to the surprise of everyone watching, but SIPG’s dominance (70% possession, 24 shots, 11 on target) was too much for them to handle.
Ricardo Lopes equalised for the red Shanghai team after 40 minutes with Wang Shenchao adding a second just four minutes later, taking Vítor Pereira’s side into the half with confidence.
Lopes scored his second of the night, SIPG’s third, on the 64th minute – securing his side all three points and a strong start to what will be a very unique season ahead.