HONG KONG, Oct 20 (Reuters) - China international Wu Xi scored twice as Jiangsu Suning kept their hopes of a top-four finish in the Chinese Super League alive on Sunday evening with a 4-1 thrashing of Hebei CFFC.
Wu’s double propelled Jiangsu to a win that moves Cosmin Olaroiu’s side on to 43 points, one behind fourth-placed Shandong Luneng with only four matches remaining in the 2019 campaign.
A spot in next season’s Asian Champions League is beyond the club from Nanjing, however, with Olaroiu’s team well adrift of lead trio Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai SIPG and Beijing Guoan, who have sown up three of the country’s spots in the continental championship for next season.
The fourth berth will go to the winners of the Chinese FA Cup, where Shandong and Shanghai Shenhua will meet over two legs in the final later this year.
Odion Ighalo was on the scoresheet as Shanghai Shenhua handed Rafa Benitez’s Dalian Yifang a 2-1 loss while Henan Jianye picked up a much-needed three points as they secured a 1-0 win over Chongqing Lifan.
Earlier in the weekend, Guangzhou Evergrande extended their lead at the summit to three points after a 3-2 win over Shenzhen FC on Friday evening and that was followed by a 2-0 win for Shanghai SIPG over Beijing Guoan 24 hours later.
Beijing had trailed Guangzhou by a point going into this week’s matches but the loss to the defending champions, who climbed from third to second with the win, means Evergrande have extended their advantage over the chasing pack.
Goals from Elkeson and Paulinho inside the first 19 minutes looked to have set Guangzhou on the path to a comfortable three points only for Cameroon’s John Mary to halve the deficit six minutes before the break.
Elkeson restored the two-goal cushion early in the second half to leave Mary’s second five minutes into injury time as little more than a consolation for Roberto Donadoni’s relegation-threatened side.
SIPG, meanwhile, took the lead against Beijing through Li Shenglong’s header before Odil Ahmedov scored on the break to wrap up the three points at Workers’ Stadium on Saturday evening.
Guangzhou now have 62 points and lead SIPG by three points with four games remaining while Beijing are a further point adrift.
Elsewhere, Eran Zahavi’s injury time free kick gave the Israel international his 27th goal of the season, but it was not enough to stop Guangzhou R&F from going down to a 3-1 loss at the hands of Shandong.
Tianjin Tianhai moved out of the relegation places with a 3-1 win over Wuhan Zall that took them above Shenzhen, with Beijing Renhe rooted to the bottom following their 1-0 loss against Tianjin Teda. (Reporting by Michael Church; editing by Tony Lawrence )