Jiangsu shocks Guangzhou Evergrande to win first CSL title

Society & Culture

Led by Alex Teixiera, Jiangsu Suning defeated Guangzhou Evergrande on November 12 to win the Chinese Super League. Meanwhile, in table tennis on Sunday, Fan Zhendong defeated legend Ma Long in an exciting finals to win his third consecutive ITTF World Cup.

Jiangsu Suning claimed its first Chinese Super League title after defeating defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande 2-1 in the CSL final in Suzhou on Thursday night.

After a goalless draw in the first leg, the second leg felt more like a traditional final, with caginess from both sides in the opening 15 minutes.

Evergrande, which started the game with just five Chinese-born players (a fact that has caused much consternation among opposing coaches), began by dominating the ball with its Brazilian midfield.

However, it was clear that Suning was willing to play without the ball and use their own dynamic Brazilian attackers to hit Guangzhou on the break.

It was Jiangsu’s fluid counter-attacks that created the turning point. A sloppy clean-up job after a Fernandinho corner gave his ex-compatriot Alex Teixiera a chance to run the length of the field.

Teixiera collected the ball on the edge of his box before showing a floundering Fernandinho a clean set of heels to carve through the scrambling Evergrande defenders. A quick jink past a sliding Jiang Guangtai put the Brazilian through — before he was dragged down on the edge of the box by Hé Chāo 何超.

After a lengthy VAR review, the referee gave Jiangsu a free-kick from the edge of the Evergrande penalty area. He Chao was given a red card for his tackle.

Eder, the Brazilian-born Italian striker, stepped up and casually shot the ball into Evergrande’s wall — and saw it deflect into the top corner of Evergrande’s net.

Coming out of the second half, Jiangsu started brightly, taking advantage of Evergrande’s 10 men.

It took just two minutes for Alex Teixiera to put Evergrande to the sword again. Jiangsu captain Wú Xī 吴曦 pumped a long ball forward to the Brazilian after winning the ball back. The ball landed at the feet of the Guangzhou defense, but fortunately for Teixiera, a heavy touch from the naturalized English-born defender Ty Browning (蒋光太 Jiǎng Guāngtài) put the ball straight into the Brazilian’s path.

In a flash, Teixeira took a step and a touch before curling the ball into the bottom corner of the Evergrande goal past the outstretched Liú Diànzuò 刘殿座 to put Jiangsu two goals up.

Jiangsu continued to run the show for the next 10 minutes, with Teixiera almost curling in another goal from outside the box.

Evergrande, feeling like the game was slipping away after a couple of wasted opportunities, stepped up its game and connected in the 60th minute, when Wéi Shìháo 韦世豪 headed in a goal off a brilliant cross from Zhōng Yìhào 钟义浩.

The rest of the game, however, went mostly Jiangsu’s way. Luō Jìng 罗竞 and Eder both could’ve secured a third in the remaining time, but ultimately, a third Jiangsu goal was never required.

After a suspect seven minutes of injury time (reminiscent of Fergie time during the Manchester United heyday), the whistle blew, and history was made.

You can watch the highlights of the match here:

Pay attention to the lovely cries of “Beautiful!” ( piàoliang) from the commentators for the second goal at the 2:45 mark.


Fan Zhendong usurps Ma Long as king of Chinese ping-pong

Fan Zhendong wins ITTF World Cup

With the Tokyo Olympics less than a year away, this year’s ITTF World Cup was the first major test for the table tennis elite to test their readiness on the world stage. Last week, the women took center stage in Weihai, Shandong province; this past weekend it was the men.

The sport’s eyes were on three players: Mǎ Lóng 马龙, Fán Zhèndōng 樊振东, and Japanese sensation Tomokazu Harimoto.

In the end, it was favorite Fan Zhendong who came out on top, winning his third consecutive World Cup.

Fan, 23, showed his class throughout the three-day tournament (though he didn’t have to play any qualification matches on Day 1). A comfortable straight-set clinic and a scrappy yet straightforward win against the Taiwanese pair Chuang Chih-yuan and Lin Yun-ju put Fan into an easy semifinal against South Korea’s Jang Woo-jin.

Jang, who shocked compatriot Jeoung Young-sik in the quarters, was quickly dispatched in straight sets.

On the other side of the draw, both Ma Long and Harimoto, the second and third seeds, cruised through the early rounds to meet each other in the semifinals.

Ma, who is 5-2 all-time against Harimoto, fell behind 3 sets to 1 in the best-of-seven. But the veteran Ma showed that there was still fight left in the old dog yet, winning the three final sets to scrape home for a 4-3 victory and secure a place against Fan in the final.

The final flowed the same way as the Ma/Harimoto semi. After winning the first set against Fan, Ma then fell in three successive sets.

However, Ma once again showed why he has been the most dominant male ping-pong player of the past decade. Ma roared back to force a decisive winner-take-all set.

The final set was a classic. In the end, it was the quality of Fan’s backhands down the line that helped push the 23-year-old to an 11-9 victory — and the championship.

Take a look at all the points in the finals here:

The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.