Shandong Luneng had Zhejiang to thank as they claimed their second Chinese Super League (CSL) title in three years with a 0-0 draw against Guangzhou on Sunday. Shanghai Shenhua would have been champions on goal difference had they held on to a 2-1 lead over Zhejiang but Tan Yang's 76th minute equaliser handed Shandong their third title since the national league was started in 1994. "I would be happier if we had won but our team has done the best throughout the year," Shandong's Serbian coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic told local media. Shandong finished with 63 points from 30 games, two better than Shanghai, who also had a penalty saved by Zhejiang's goalkeeper Jiang Bo before Tan's strike. Beijing Guoan beat Chengdu Blades 2-0 in their last match at Fengtai Stadium to finish third with 58 points and go into the draw for next year's revamped Asian Champions League along with the top two and Tianjin, who finished fourth with 57 points. Brazilian striker Eber Luis Cucchi scored four as Tianjin ended their season with a 5-3 thrashing of eight-times champions Dalian Shide. The once-proud Dalian had a miserable season, just escaping relegation by finishing 14th in the 16-team league. Liaoning filled the one remaining relegation spot left over after Wuhan quit the league in a row over the supension of a player in October. Shandong cannot win the double as they did in 2006 as the Chinese FA Cup was cancelled to allow the Olympic team to prepare for their failed attempt to reach the last four at the Beijing Games. With the senior team already knocked out of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, Shandong's triumph brings to an end another miserable year for Chinese football.
30 November 2008
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