CSL Preview: Guangzhou, Beijing in final-day fight

Guangzhou Evergrande must avoid a final-day defeat at fourth-placed Shandong Luneng to deny Beijing Guoan a shot at snatching CSL glory.

A draw was all Guangzhou needed at home to Beijing in the penultimate round to make sure of a fourth successive title.

However, substitute Shao Jiayi's last-gasp free-kick – with his first touch – snatched the capital club a victory that moved them three points behind their opponents.

It also ensured that if the teams finish level on points, Beijing, who drew 1-1 at home to Guangzhou in the teams' first meeting of 2014, will lift the trophy due to a superior head-to-head record.

Beijing, who have won six league matches in a row on their own turf, are firmly expected to claim victory in their ultimate league game, at home to relegation-threatened Henan Jianye.

"We can't underestimate Henan," warned Beijing president Luo Ning. "It is the closing match, so we must go all out for victory.

"But regardless of the outcome, your efforts have made us proud and you are already heroes in the eyes of the fans. But it would be great to repay their support by winning."

Guangzhou, by contrast, are away to a side unbeaten in 10 outings in all competitions.

Furthermore, Shandong – tied with Guangzhou on a record three titles since the Super League's 2004 inception – are desperate to stop their rivals outranking them.

Shandong will look to crafty Argentina playmaker Walter Montillo and former Brazil striker Vagner Love to provide inspiration.

However, Guangzhou have an in-form Brazilian of their own in Elkeson. The uncapped 25-year-old has already broken the record for the most goals scored in a Super League campaign, having netted 27 times in 27 appearances.

The thrilling finale is a breath of fresh air for Chinese football, in its 20th season with a professional league.

Not since Beijing were crowned champions for the only time in 2009 has the title race gone down to the final day, while Guangzhou have cruised to the last three titles, winning by 15- and 18-point margins in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

Harbin Yiteng are already certain to finish bottom and round off their maiden top-tier campaign at Guizhou Renhe.

Dalian Aerbin are the favourites to join Harbin in the second tier next season. Yasuharu Kurata's men are second-bottom, one point behind Henan, and visit 11th-placed Shanghai Shenxin.

If Dalian and Henan both win, Hangzhou or Changchun Yatai, who are both three points clear of safety and meet in the final round, could go down.

Guangzhou R and F, who are guaranteed third place and the final AFC Champions League qualifying berth, travel to mid-table Jiangsu Sainty, while Shanghai SIPG visit Tianjin Teda in a battle between fifth and sixth, and Liaoning Whowin entertain Shanghai Shenhua.