BEIJING, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande returned to winning ways following their AFC Champions League exit last week with Brazilian striker Elkeson netting a hat-trick in a 6-0 demolition of Liaoning Whowin.
The victory maintained their six-point lead over Beijing Guoan at the top of the Chinese Super League with seven games remaining as the big-spending side showed no ill effects from Wednesday’s disappointing continental exit on away goals.
Super League top scorer Elkeson, who cut a frustrated figure as Guangzhou missed a glut of chances against Western Sydney Wanderers, returned to his trademark accurate ways against relegation candidates Liaoning.
He opened the scoring with an unstoppable 26 metre drive in the 24th minute, added a second shortly after halftime when he was left free at the back post to convert from close range and notched a curling free-kick with seven minutes left.
He was ably supported by Guangzhou’s foreign contingent with compatriot Rene Junior and Italian duo Alberto Gilardino and Alessandro Diamanti also getting amongst the goals.
Guoan kept up the pressure on Marcello Lippi’s side by recording a 2-0 home win over Harbin Yiteng, the only side beneath Liaoning in the 16-team standings.
Montenegrin forward Dejan Damjanovic needed only 20 seconds to put the hosts in front, tucking past the onrushing goalkeeper after a clever through ball by Zhang Xizhe.
Damjanovic, who joined from Super League rivals Jiangsu Sainty in July, added another in the second period, firing a low right foot shot home to make the game safe.
Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Guangzhou R&F lost ground on the top two after they were held to a goalless draw by struggling Dalian Aerbin. (Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Ian Ransom)