Hulk’s late strike secures crucial victory for Shanghai SIPG
The coronavirus-delayed Chinese Super League’s group B took shape on Tuesday night after the 12th round of matches in the Suzhou bubble, but there is still all to play for.
Shanghai SIPG kept hold of their grip on top spot. They took on the fourth-placed team from the Dalian group in the title-deciding second round – with a 1-0 win over Shijiazhuang Ever Bright and another three points.
They needed them with Beijing Guoan, who beat Qingdao Huanghai 5-1, breathing down their necks.
Shanghai SIPG’s lead is four points with two games left, but the top two meet on Friday. The game could be very crucial and the outcome could go a long way to determine who will top the group at the end of the day.
The leaders thought they had a first half penalty only for the foul to be ruled out for offside against Wang Shenchao. For most of the game, Shanghai dominated and it was only a matter of time until they got their breakthrough. Both sides saw decent chances in the first half but it ended goalless regardless.
The second half finally saw the deadlock broken. After a string of missed chances yet again, Hulk converted a 72nd minute penalty to decide the game, having earlier rattled the crossbar from distance.
A draw will secure top spot for SIPG, but Guoan go into Friday’s game full of confidence after a dominant display with a thrashing to go with against the Qingdao side.
The stage is now set for what could be a grand clash when Shanghai SIPG take on Beijing Guoan on Friday.