Friends reunited as Eriksson’s SIPG end Evergrande run


Shanghai (AFP) – Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Shanghai SIPG ended Guangzhou Evergrande’s run of nine straight Chinese Super League victories to cut their lead at the top of the table.

The ex-England manager, who warmly greeted old sparring partner Luiz Felipe Scolari before the game, oversaw a 1-1 draw — Evergrande’s first dropped points since March.

The result means Hebei China Fortune, who beat Chongqing Lifan 3-1, close to within five points, with Jiangsu Suning and SIPG six and seven back respectively.

Evergrande opened the scoring with Brazilian forward Ricardo Goulart’s neat shot in the 63rd minute, but a defensive slip-up let Ivorian winger Jean Evrard Kouassi equalize for SIPG just seven minutes later. 

Evergrande have been rampant in domestic competition after an embarrassing failure in the AFC Champions League, where the title-holders were knocked out in the group phase.

Eriksson and Scolari shook hands and patted each other on the shoulder before the game, putting aside their long-running rivalry.

The management heavyweights have a long personal history: Scolari’s Brazil dumped Eriksson’s England out of the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals, before doing likewise with Portugal at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.

When asked what he said to Scolari, Eriksson, whose team are through to the AFC Champions League quarter-finals: said: “I can’t remember word for word but I congratulated him on Evergrande winning their last nine games in a row and he congratulated me for our result in the Asian Champions League.” 

“There are no hard feelings between us, not at all,” added the Swede, while Scolari said: “I went to speak with Eriksson because he has been a friend of mine for 20 years.”

Elsewhere Jiangsu Suning dropped to third, below Ezequiel Lavezzi’s Hebei, after a 1-1 draw at home to Hangzhou Greentown. 

Former Manchester City striker Jo put Jiangsu ahead after 27 minutes but Tim Cahill’s 88th-minute equalizer grabbed a point for the visitors.

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