HONG KONG, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Guangzhou Evergrande clinched an eighth Chinese Super League title in nine seasons as Fabio Cannavaro’s side beat Shanghai Shenhua 3-0 on Sunday to reclaim the trophy 12 months after surrendering it to Shanghai SIPG.
Evergrande’s run of seven straight titles came to end last season but goals from Wei Shihao, Park Ji-soo and Elkeson ensured the trophy returned to Tianhe Stadium as Guangzhou finished two points ahead of Beijing Guoan.
Wei put Guangzhou in front with a deft close-range finish three minutes into first-half stoppage time and Park doubled the advantage 10 minutes after the interval when he side-footed home.
Elkeson, who rejoined Guangzhou in the summer after a three-and-a-half year spell with SIPG, added the third seven minutes from fulltime when he burst into the penalty area following Paulinho’s through ball to slot past Shenhua’s Chen Zhao.
“Today everyone is united and being able to achieve this result is an affirmation of our efforts,” said Guangzhou captain Zheng Zhi.
“We’re very proud of this achievement.
“This victory is significant. The team has changed and everyone has paid a lot. The new and old players have helped each other to win this championship.”
Guangzhou’s victory comes despite a turbulent season for a club that has established itself as the dominant force in Chinese football.
Speculation over the future of Cannavaro has been constant since Evergrande were knocked out of the Asian Champions League in the semi-finals and doubts remain over whether the Italian will still be in the post next season.
Beijing finished in second - the club’s best finish since 2014 - after fighting back to secure a 3-2 victory over Shandong Luneng.
Bruno Genesio’s side needed to win on Sunday and to have Shenhua defeat Evergrande to win the title, but the club from the capital went two goals down inside 34 minutes when Roger Guedes and Marouane Fellaini netted for Shandong.
Zhang Yuning pulled one back for Beijing and Renato Augusto scored from the penalty spot in first-half injury time to ensure the teams went into the break level. Wang Ziming completed the comeback in injury time as Beijing finished the season on a high.
Deposed champions Shanghai SIPG thrashed already-relegated Shenzhen FC 6-0 as they finished in third while Jiangsu Suning jumped into fourth on the final day when their 2-0 win over Tianjin Tianhai moved them ahead of Shandong Luneng.
In the day’s other games, Rafa Benitez’s Dalian Yifang sealed a 2-0 win over Beijing Renhe and Henan Jianye won 1-0 against Guangzhou R&F.
Hebei CFFC beat Wuhan Zall 2-1 while Tianjin Teda took all three points from Chongqing Lifan with a 2-0 win. (Reporting by Michael Church Editing by Toby Davis)