Nil-nil draw leaves all to play for in second leg. Relegation play-off also evenly poised.
Jiangsu Suning and Guangzhou Evergrande drew 0-0 in front of around 6,000 fans in the first leg of the CSL title play-off. Evergrande opened strongly and dominated possession throughout the game, but neither side were able to break the deadlock.
The second leg will be in Suzhou on Thursday. Evergrande go into the match aiming to retain the CSL title and win their ninth championship in ten years. They may be without veteran midfielder Zheng Zhi through injury, but Zhang Linpeng and Huang Bowen will still provide a link to Evergrande’s earlier CSL titles.
In contrast, their opponents Jiangsu have never won China’s top division. They came close in 2012 when Cristian Dănălache’s goals almost stopped Evergrande from winning the league. In late 2015, the Suning Group bought Jiangsu and promptly went on a spending spree, bringing Ramires and fellow Brazilian Alex Teixeira to Nanjing. The renamed Jiangsu Suning came second – again to Guangzhou Evergrande – in 2016. Cosmin Olăroiu now has the opportunity to go one better.
In the CSL’s Dalian bubble, the relegation play-off also finished 0-0. Wuhan Zall and Shijiazhuang Everbright will meet again on Wednesday. Whilst the loser will definitely be relegated, the winner isn’t guaranteed to stay up. They will face Zhejiang Greentown in the CSL/CL1 promotion/relegation match-up later this month. Greentown (then playing as Hangzhou, rather than Zhejiang) were relegated from the CSL in 2016.
One familiar team will be back in the CSL in 2021. Changchun Yatai were relegated in 2018 but ended 2020 as the CL1 champions.
Amongst the other games, the match for third/fourth is particularly important for ACL qualification. Beijing Guoan were looking good at 2-0 going into the final moments of the first leg until a horrible moment for their keeper Guo Quanbo. Li Shenglong’s header looped over Guo and hit the crossbar before rebounding off Guo and into the goal. After the second leg on Wednesday, both sides will fly out to take part in this year’s much delayed ACL.
There was plenty of excitement in the fifth-sixth game as Chongqing Dangdai came back from 3-0 down to beat Shandong Luneng 4-3. Marcinho completed Chongqing’s comeback in the 89th minute. As well as the seven goals, there was also a disallowed goal and a Shandong shot that hit both posts and bounced out.
Shanghai Shenhua beat Hebei 4-1, and scored the fastest goal of the season in doing so. Miller Bolanos scored after just 15 seconds for Shenhua who now look like they’ll finish seventh.
Emmanuel Boateng’s rocket for Dalian against Guangzhou R&F is another goal to look out for. Adrian thought he’d continued his goalscoring form to give R&F the lead, but VAR showed that Ye Chugui was narrowly offside in the build up. Dalian then scored three goals in the second half to all but ensure an 11th place finish.
Shenzhen beat Qingdao Huanghai 2-0 in a game between the sides who just avoided the relegation play-off. In the remaining game, Henan and Tianjin drew nil-nil.