On saturday the Chinese Super League main event took place as constant champions Guangzhou Evergrande hosted Shanghai SIPG. André Villas-Boas’ team travelled south with a great deal of confidence from perfect records in both the CSL and the AFC Champions League while Scolari had to make sure his team repaired the damaged from their 2-1 loss away to Shandong Luneng in the previous round.
The champions took control right away and Ricardo Goulart did well to set up Yu Hanchao to capitalize from a Zhang Huachen error after only 12 minutes. The mistake resulted in the 19 year old getting subbed after only a quarter of an hour played, or maybe it was simply another example of coaches taking their mandatory U23-player off early in every match. Anyway, the replacement Yu Hai was no more successfull as he gave the ball away to help set up Yu Hanchao for a beautifully threaded ball in behind the defence to find Alan, who kept his cool and composure, rounded the keeper and made it 2-0 in the 24th minute. It looked like a done deal at that time but the visitors fought back and started to find their stride as the first half neared its end. Though still going into the break at 2-0 down.
Whatever André Villas-Boas told his at halftime, it worked because in the 53rd minute, former Evergrande star Elkeson was played in by Hulk to pull one back and breathe life into the match. SIPG took over proceedings and were rightfully rewarded with 20 minutes still on the clock when Oscar found Hulk in a Brazilian combination to pull their team level. The match was turned upside down and suddenly, the challengers looked poised to complete a remarkable comeback and secure the win. However, it was a match of great attacking, but little defensive, quality and the teams traded chances in an end-to-end type of affair after the equaliser. With only ten minutes to go, the man of the match, Yu Hanchao, got loose in the SIPG box and was brought down by Shi Ke. From the replay it looked like the attacker did everything in his power to get the contact, and was already half way down when he did, but the way Zhang Yi went off his feet in such a clumsy manor still deserved a penalty call. Up stepped Ricardo Goulart and the Brazilian made no mistake from the spot, making sure all three points stayed in Kanton.
The hyped up affair certainly didn’t disappoint, but rather proved a great advertisement for Chinese football. Shanghai SIPG were rather unlucky not to take anything from the match but, with all the firepower brought in from abroad, it looks like Guangzhou Evergrande will benefit from the new foreign player quota, as they seem to have the greatest reserve of domestic talent.