Wang Shenchao, Elkeson strike as Shanghai SIPG remain perfect in CSL
Wang Shenchao and Elkeson were on target as Shanghai SIPG continued their perfect start to the Chinese Super League campaign on Sunday with a 2-1 win over Henan JIanye that maintained their three point lead over defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
Wang gave SIPG the lead in the 36th minute and Elkeson doubled his side's advantage three minutes later but Ma Xingyu halved the deficit on the stroke of half time.
SIPG, however, held on to record a fifth straight win as Vitor Pereira's side continued their impressive start to the 2019 campaign.
"This was a difficult game against a tough opponent," said Pereira. "We couldn't relax when it was 2-1 and our defence was quite active too. There were a lot of physical confrontations in this game but what matters is the three points.
"We had a tough game in the Asian Champions League against Kawasaki Frontale, but here we are with the three points."
Guangzhou Evergrande won the battle between the teams chasing SIPG as Fabio Cannavaro's side downed Shandong Luneng thanks to a solitary goal from Gao Lin.
Gao's fourth minute header ensured the seven-time champions won for a fourth straight match to move on to 12 points, just three behind SIPG and two ahead of Shanghai Shenhua and Beijing Guoan.
"We controlled the game for the first 30 to 35 minutes but Luneng showed they are a strong team," said Cannavaro.
"The scoreline shouldn't be 1-0. We need to be more ruthless when we have opportunities. We created some chances but recently our shooting hasn't been accurate enough."
Shenhua notched up their third win a row to join Beijing Guoan on 10 points from five games as Wu Jingui's side handed Beijing Renhe a 2-0 defeat.
Oscar Romero opened the scoring for the Chinese FA Cup champions before Giovanni Moreno sealed the win four minutes from time.
Tianjin Quanjian, meanwhile, picked up a much-needed win -- just their second in the league so far this season -- with Paulo Sousa's side defeating Guizhou Zhicheng thanks to a solitary goal from Wang Jie.
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch