About 30 minutes into Tianjin Quanjian – Guangzhou Evergrande I actually found what appeared to be a working stream. This meant I’d missed the penalty in the fifteenth minute that Ricardo Goulart, in turn, missed himself by firing over the bar. I knew that I could lose access at any time as it was far from an official source. Last year there was a proper European payment service that was reliable although it didn’t broadcast all matches but for the other ones, at least some betting sites produced alternative viewing options. This season, the real way to access the CSL outside of China seems to be through Sky Sports, it seems that would, however, require moving to the U.K. and getting a full TV-package. A wonderful example of the difference between the CFA saying it wants Chinese football to grow and it actually taking action to make it happen.
The fifteen minutes of the first half that I got to see wasn’t really much to write about so I won’t.
The second half started out with a bit more intensity, the visitors were probing to find openings and Alan was very mobile up front. That would only last until the 50-minute mark as said Alan got sent off after being easily provoked by Liu Yiming and throwing an elbow to the centre-backs face, leaving Shi Zhenlu little choice but to present the red card. But, only 5 minutes later, Gao Lin improved on his not too impressive goal scoring record of 2018 as he hit a well-placed volley home from inside the box following a corner. A crucial goal considering the main challengers to strip the ruling champions of their crown, Shanghai SIPG, were up at halftime against Chongqing Lifan.
Now Quanjian were forced to move their positions forward and they had a couple of good efforts to level the match within minutes of the goal. This also meant becoming very open at the back and with all the attacking quality of Evergrande, Alan or no Alan, it left the chasing hosts more than a little vulnerable. A free-kick from far out on the right-hand side passed by everyone and nearly doubled the lead with 65 minutes played but the ball bounced back into play off the post.
For the remainder of the evening, Quanjian kept pushing forward, and not to say they didn’t create anything, but Anthony Modeste had a pretty disappointing night up front and Alexandre Pato was sorely missed. Instead, it was Evergrande who had the bulk of real chances. With 3 minutes left of the 90, Nemanja Gudelj could’ve definitely put the affair to rest but Paulinho’s replacement failed to bring the ball down with his chest as he was in on goal and the ball rolled all the way down to the grasp of Zhang Lu. It didn’t matter in the end as Evergrande held on for a hard fought win to keep them within 3 points of SIPG at the top. Most likely at third place as Shandong Luneng only needs one point at home to the biggest of the season so far, Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng, to overtake the champions again.