East Asia Domestic Wrap: SIPG top Beijing FC; J.League title race heats up
Kuala Lumpur: Shanghai SIPG secured a big win away at their Chinese Super League title rivals, while Yokohama F. Marinos made up ground on the top two as the hunt for the Japanese championship became a three-way race.
Following the international break, the domestic action in East Asia returned with a bang as the leagues in Japan, Korea Republic and China PR enter the business end of season, while the Hong Kong and Mongolia Premier Leagues also saw some intriguing ties.
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China PR: SIPG stay in sight of Guangzhou
League leaders and AFC Champions League semi-finalists Guangzhou Evergrande set the tone for an exciting weekend of action on Friday, as they edged Shenzhen FC 3-2 in the southern Chinese city thanks to goals from Paulinho and Elkeson.
However, all eyes would have been focused on Saturday's clash between the teams in second and third as Beijing FC hosted Shanghai SIPG in the capital.
After a goalless first half, goals from Li Shenglong and Uzbekistan midfielder Odil Akhmedov proved the difference for the visitors. A result that moved them into second place, three points behind Guangzhou, with Beijing a further point behind.
Japan: Challengers close in on Kashima
In the J.League, the race for the 2019 title looks like going to the wire with three sides at the top separated by just a point. Kashima Antlers remain in top spot, but only by virtue of goal difference after a disappointing draw away at second-from-bottom side Matsumoto Yamaga on Friday.
FC Tokyo and Yokohama F. Marinos took full advantage of the dropped points with both securing 3-1 wins over Vissel Kobe and Shonan Bellmare respectively.
The capital city side are now level on points with Kashima, with Yokohama just a point back. Sanfrecce Hiroshima are still in contention, just five points further behind after a 2-1 win over Shimizu S-Pulse, while Cerezo also secured a 1-0 win at Consadole Sapporo to leapfrog Kawasaki Frontale into fifth.
Korea Republic: Ulsan, Jeonbuk in exciting race
Unlike Japan and China, there are just two teams in with a realistic chance of the domestic title in Korea Republic and both won on Sunday.
Ulsan Hyundai, currently ahead of defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors by a point, edged fourth-placed Daegu FC 2-1, while Jeonbuk had a more comfortable 3-0 win over the team in sixth, Pohang Steelers.
FC Seoul remain in third despite slipping to defeat in arguably the most exciting match of the weekend as opponents Gangwon FC twice came from behind to win 3-2 with a Lee Hyun-sik winner in stoppage time.
Hong Kong: Southern District end Eastern's unbeaten run to go top
The biggest result for the Hong Kong Premier League in terms of impact, if not scoreline, was when previously undefeated sides Southern District and Eastern SC met on Sunday.
Southern's Australian attacker Travis Major's 17th-minute strike proved enough at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground to secure a 1-0 win for The Aberdeeners and vault them into first place as early front-runners in the league.
Lee Man FC moved into third with a 1-0 win over BC Rangers, while fourth placed R&F chalked up the biggest win of the season so far with an 8-0 drubbing of bottom side Yuen Long.
Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar City edge out Erchim
There was just two fixtures over the weekend in the Mongolia Premier League but they did involve the top two in the championship as second placed Ulaanbaatar City faced leaders Erchim.
In a closely fought tie, it was the hosts Ulaanbaatar who came out on top after a 2-1 win saw them leapfrog their visitors into first place.
Meanwhile, fourth placed Deren drew away at the side in fifth, Athletic 220, after a 1-1 stalemate.
Photos: Shanghai SIPG
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