Superb Shanghai SIPG put Evergrande to the sword

Shanghai SIPG put in a brilliant display on Tuesday evening to beat Guangzhou Evergrande 4-0 in the first leg of their AFC Champions League quarter-final.

First-half goals by Hulk and Wang Shenchao put the hosts firmly in control of proceedings at the Shanghai Stadium, before a Wu Lei brace after halftime completed a stunning result.

There is still the return encounter to be played at the Tianhe Stadium on September 12, but it will take something miraculous if Evergrande are to overturn the deficit.

In what had been billed as a tantalising encounter between the Chinese Super League’s two giants, the Red Eagles were presented with a perfect opportunity to open the scoring in the 37th minute when Wu Lei was barged over inside the area.

A penalty was awarded without hesitation and it was Brazil international Hulk who stepped up to the spot, calmly sending Zeng Cheng the wrong way to make it 1-0.

Right on the stroke of halftime, their lead was doubled when captain Wang Shenchao was left unmarked at the back post following a short corner routine and headed home from two yards out.

The contest was effectively over in the 62nd minute when a neat backheel from Hulk sent Wu charging towards goal; the China international proceeding to unleashed a ferocious drive into the far corner.

With three-goal cushion in their grasp, Andre Villas-Boas’ charges could have been expected to consolidate the situation and play out the remainder of the contest yet they had other ideas.

Hulk was at the centre of everything and, two minutes later, he led a counterattack with a burst straight down the middle before slipping a pass through to Wu, who made no mistake in finishing past the onrushing Zeng to complete the rout for his side.

Evergrande have another 90 minutes to attempt to pull off a remarkable comeback, one which would be even more stunning than the victory their opponents inflicted on them on Tuesday.

For now, however, Shanghai SIPG have taken a huge step towards shifting the balance of power in Chinese football.

SHANGHAI SIPG: Yan Junling, Fu Huan, He Guan, Shi Ke, Wang Shenchao (Zhang Wei 90’), Cai Huikang, Odil Ahmedov, Oscar, Hulk, Wu Lei (Yu Hai 88’), Lu Wenjun (Elkeson 57’).

GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE: Zeng Cheng, Zhang Linpeng, Feng Xiaoting (Wang Shangyuan 46’), Kim Young-gwan, Li Xuepeng, Zheng Zhi, Liao Lisheng, Alan (Muriqui 63’), Ricardo Goulart, Zheng Long (Yu Hanchao 46’), Gao Lin.