Champions Guangzhou, Wuhan win as Chinese Super League season finally kicks off

Wei Shihao of Guangzhou Evergrande celebrates after scoring his team's goal.
Wei Shihao of Guangzhou Evergrande celebrates after scoring his team's goal.
Image: GETTY IMAGES/ FRED LEE

Guangzhou Evergrande began the defence of their Chinese Super League (CSL) title with a 2-0 victory against Shanghai Shenhua as the delayed 2020 campaign, revamped due to the Covid-19 pandemic, finally kicked off over the weekend.

Two goals from China international forward Wei Shihao gave the side coached by Italian World Cup-winner Fabio Cannavaro victory as they began their bid for a ninth crown in 10 seasons in perfect fashion behind closed doors on Saturday.

Shenzhen FC defeated Dutchman Giovanni van Bronckhorst's Guangzhou R&F 3-0 on Sunday to climb above Evergrande on goal difference in the league's Dalian hub in northeast China.

Instead of the home-and-away system, the 16 CSL teams are playing a round robin in two groups with the top four from each qualifying for an eight-team "championship" stage and the remaining eight going into a "relegation" phase.

Dalian Pro, coached by Spaniard Rafa Benitez, got off to a disappointing start with a 3-2 defeat by Shandong Luneng, while Jiangsu Suning pipped Henan Jianye 4-3.

In the Suzhou hub near Shanghai, Wuhan Zall - hailing from the city where the novel coronavirus first emerged last year - received a guard of honour before beating promoted Qingdao Huanghai 2-0.

An own goal by defender Yaki Yen and Liu Yun's strike in the second half sealed the win for Wuhan, who had travelled to Cadiz in Spain for a pre-season tour on January 29 and stayed there for several weeks as the virus spread rapidly.

Last year's runners-up Beijing Guoan overcame an early red card for defender Yang Fan to defeat Chongqing Lifan 2-1, with second half goals from Li Lei and Piao Cheng.

A Yu Dabao own goal 10 minutes from time ensured a tight finish.

Hebei CFFC were held 2-2 by Shijiazhuang Ever Bright.

Tianjin Teda face Shanghai SIPG later on Monday.


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