HONG KONG, April 17 (Reuters) – Israel international Eran Zahavi scored twice as Guangzhou R&F returned to pole position in the Chinese Super League standings on Monday with a 4-1 win over Liaoning Whowin.
Dragan Stojkovic’s side moved a point clear of Shandong Luneng and three points clear of Shanghai SIPG and defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande as they handed Liaoning their first defeat of the season.
R&F now have 13 points from five games and are one of only two undefeated teams remaining in the Chinese Super League.
“The credit doesn’t only go to Zahavi,” said Stojkovic. “We play an integrated football style and the whole team was excellent. I won’t comment on him alone. He scored two goals, of course he was excellent.
“I know now we are leading the rankings, but we are not getting carried away with it. My only hope is to make every match a good one, and give our fans happiness.”
Hebei CFFC, coached by former Real Madrid and Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, possess the only other unbeaten record in the league after a 1-1 draw with Yanbian Funde moved the club on to nine points and into fifth place.
Champions Evergrande had Ricardo Goulart to thank for their 3-0 win over Tianjin Teda, with the Brazilian scoring twice and setting up the third for Yu Hanchao as the six-time CSL winners kept pace with the frontrunners.
“We controlled the game and created more chances than Tianjin,” said Evergrande coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. “Most importantly we converted our chances into goals and nailed down a scoreline like this.”
SIPG, meanwhile, were held to a 1-1 draw by Fabio Cannavaro‘s Tianjin Quanjian as Alexandre Pato scored his first goal since moving to China earlier this year to secure a point for last season’s second division champions.
Shandong Luneng bounced back from last week’s loss against SIPG to defeat Beijing Guoan 1-0 and move into second while Shanghai Shenhua had a late Giovanni Moreno goal to thank for their 3-2 victory over Changchun Yatai.
Jiangsu Suning, runners-up in the league and Chinese FA Cup last season, moved off the bottom of the table with a 1-1 draw against Henan Jianye as Chongqing Lifan moved up to sixth following their 2-1 win over Guizhou Zhicheng. (Editing by Pritha Sarkar)