HONG KONG (Reuters) - Shanghai SIPG returned to the top of the Chinese Super League standings on Sunday ahead of a two-month break as defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande slipped further off the pace.
SIPG claimed their first league win in five games, ahead of the suspension of the league before the World Cup finals in Russia, to climb above Shandong Luneng on goal difference.
Goals from Wu Lei and Oscar earned Vitor Pereira’s side a 2-0 victory over Jiangsu Suning to move SIPG on to 23 points from the first 11 games of the season, level with a Shandong side who got a 2-1 win over Tianjin Teda on Friday.
Evergrande, who have won the Chinese Super League title in each of the last seven years, are now five points behind the leaders after enduring a third defeat of the campaign when they lost 2-0 to newly promoted Beijing Renhe.
The defeat completed a disappointing week for Fabio Cannavaro’s side, who were eliminated from the Asian Champions League by Kashima Antlers from Japan. The Italian believes his players are still mourning their exit from the continental competition.
“We knew we’d have difficulties before the match,” said the World Cup winner. “We haven’t recovered from the disappointment of being eliminated from the Asian Champions League.
“We gave Beijing two opportunities in the first 20 minutes and they scored both while we didn’t score but created enough chances. The players were anxious.
“Now this break is important for us, although not physically as the players have no problems running. We need to use this chance to clear our minds.”
China failed to qualify for the World Cup, which opens on June 14.
Beijing Guoan sit in third place in the league after a 2-0 win over Changchun Yatai thanks to goals from Jonathan Soriano and Cedric Bakambu, who claimed his eighth goal in eight league games since joining from Villarreal in February.
Hebei China Fortune notched up a 2-1 victory over Chongqing Lifan before Manuel Pellegrini’s departure from the club was announced as speculation increases that the former Manchester City and Real Madrid manager is due to join West Ham United.
Alexandre Pato scored three minutes from time for Tianjin Quanjian as Paulo Sousa’s side secured a 2-1 win over Shanghai Shenhua while Guangzhou R&F were held to a 1-1 draw by Henan Jianye, with Ricardo Vaz Te’s 94th-minute penalty securing a point for Henan.
In a clash between the teams in the relegation zone, Dalian Yifang picked up just their second win of the season as Bernd Schuster’s team defeated Guizhou Zhicheng 2-1 on Sunday.
Fan Yunlong had given Guizhou the lead on the half-hour mark but a brace from Nyasha Mushekwi gave Dalian all three points to open up a five-point gap on Gregorio Manzano’s last-placed side.
Editing by Clare Fallon