East Asia Leagues Wrap: Beijing's lead cut
Kuala Lumpur: It was a busy weekend of action in some of East Asia’s top-flight domestic competitions, with the league leaders in both China PR and Japan suffering defeats and the battle at the top intensifying in Korea Republic.
Leagues have already concluded in Hong Kong, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, while there remains plenty to play for in Chinese Taipei, Macau and Mongolia.
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A top-of-the-table clash in China PR saw Beijing FC’s 100 percent record finally ended after defending Chinese Super League champions and second-placed Shanghai SIPG dealt them a 2-1 defeat on Sunday following goals from Oscar and Cai Huikang to cut their lead at the top to just two points.
Guangzhou Evergrande are a further three points off Shanghai after beating Shenzhen FC 1-0 on Sunday, while Shandong Luneng’s 3-1 win over Evergrande’s city rivals Guangzhou R&F saw the Jinan side jump to fourth in the standings. Tianjin Tianhai’s 2-1 loss to Wuhan Zall was their third successive defeat and they now prop up the standings.
In Japan, FC Tokyo’s 1-0 loss to Cerezo Osako on Saturday saw their lead at the top of the J.League cut to four points after defending champions Kawasaki Frontale continued their fine run of recent form by posting a 1-0 win over Oita Trinita on Sunday to climb to second in the standings.
Nagoya Grampus, Oita and Yokohama F.Marinos all sit two points adrift of Kawasaki, while AFC Champions League holders Kashima Antlers are in sixth place after conceding deep into stoppage time to lose 1-0 against Sagan Tosu. Shimuzu S-Pulse and Vegalta Sendai currently occupy the relegation spots.
The race at the K League 1 summit in Korea Republic continues to intrigue as Ulsan Hyundai’s 4-1 away win at Seongnam FC on Saturday maintained their place at the top, but Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors lurk within striking distance as their 4-1 victory over Gyeongnam FC a day later left them just two points behind.
Third-placed FC Seoul lost ground of the top two after a scoreless draw with Pohang Steelers to mean they are now four points off Ulsan while, at the other end, Incheon United are four points from safety after a 2-1 defeat to Sangju Sangmu.
The Hong Kong Premier League was wrapped up earlier in May, with Wofoo Tai Po (below) seeing off the challenge of R&F FC by defeating their nearest rivals at the beginning of the month to claim their maiden top-flight title. Kitchee SC, meanwhile, lifted the Hong Kong FA Cup after beating Southern District 2-0 in the final last Saturday.
In Macau, Chau Pak Kei posted a 7-0 win over Tim Iec last Wednesday to move four points clear of Cheng Fung as the Liga de Elita entered a month-long break. Defending champions Benfica Macau are down in fifth place following a 3-0 loss to Hang Sai.
Tatung opened up a two-point lead in Chinese Taipei after a resounding 8-0 victory over bottom side Ming Chuan University last Thursday, with second-placed Tainan’s 1-1 draw against third-placed Taipower meaning they were unable to keep pace with the top side.
Ulaanbaatar City are three points clear at the top of the Mongolian Premier League after a 3-0 win over Erchim FC 10 days ago ahead of a month-long break. The competition resumes in mid-June.
Rovers FC wrapped up their sixth Guam Soccer League title in April – finishing nine points clear of BOG Strykers – before the island nation’s domestic competition drew to a close in early May.
Another domestic title that concluded in May was the Northern Mariana Islands’ M*League Division 1, which was won by Teen Ayuyu (NMI U-18), who, after winning six from six in the league then defeated the Old B Bank 5-0 in the Play-offs final to be crowned champions.
Photo: Getty Images
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