A chance for Beijing Guoan to get into the fight for next year’s ACL spots and a chance for visiting Shandong Luneng to truly become the dark horse in the title race. It was the home side who controlled the actions on the pitch from the start but a weak clearance ended up with Graziano Pellè and the Italian, who’ve had considerable trouble getting on the scoresheet in the CSL, looked ever so confident as he brought the loose ball down and fired home from outside the box, without letting it hit the ground in between, for his third of the season. The lead lasted for just over ten minutes and with 25 played, Gouan equalised as Da Bun fired off a shot that looked all but unstoppable for Wang Dalei. Nonetheless it ended up in the back of the net and, only six minutes on, Li Lei found the space for a header (with a good amount of help from some very shoddy defending) on a well taken corner from Renato Augusto to put his team in front. The hosts looked like going into the break with a thoroughly deserved lead but, following a corner, Papiss Cissé got his 8th goal of the season from the final kick of the first half, with the Guoan defense already halfway to the dressing room and leaving the Senegalese all alone on the far post.
The second half lacked much of the intensity displayed during the first 45, especially from Guoan. Luneng were still content to wait for the break but as the hosts looked less hungry, chances became scarce on both ends. Luneng were disciplined and stuck to their plan. Guoan are capable of delivering some very entertaining football when they set their hearts to it and haven’t dropped in quality from selling Burak Yılmaz to Trabzonspor. Jonathan Soriano is far more useful for the club from the capital but for some reason, they often have trouble securing the points they deserve. In the end, neither side wanted to lose but the feeling I’m left with is more the one that neither side won. Guoan squandered the opportunity to overtake their opponents in the table and a late winner from Gao Lin (followed by 2- as well as 3-0 in stoppage time) against Tianjin Teda means Guangzhou Evergrande are now too far ahead for Luneng to really challenge the Cantonese.