March 18, 2018 / 3:35 PM / a month ago

Four-goal Wu maintains SIPG's perfect start

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Shanghai SIPG’s Wu Lei scored four as they battled back from two goals down to defeat Guangzhou R&F 5-2 on Sunday and maintain their perfect start to the 2018 Chinese Super League season.

Football Soccer - World Cup 2018 Qualifiers - South Korea v China - Seoul, South Korea - 01/09/16 - Wu Lei of China in action. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Eran Zahavi and Xiao Zhi gave R&F a two-goal lead with just nine minutes on the clock, but China winger Wu dismantled the home side’s defence to give Vitor Pereira’s team their third win in a row.

“I’m very proud of my players,” said Pereira.

“Given the conditions, it was not easy to play such an entertaining game. R&F are a strong team and it wasn’t easy to come back after going two goals behind.

“We showed our spirit and our quality. It’s not easy for any team to come here.”

Zahavi opened the scoring just four minutes into the game with a trademark finish after his pace allowed him to find space behind the SIPG backline and five minutes later Xiao doubled the lead with a fine header.

Yet Wu had clawed one back for SIPG by the 17th minute with a close-range effort before slamming his shot over goalkeeper Cheng Yuelei to level the scores 10 minutes later.

Wu then claimed his third of the afternoon just before the half hour mark when he beat Cheng at his near post as he shaped to shoot across goal.

Hulk made it 4-2 to SIPG eight minutes after the interval and Wu completed the rout when he rolled home Hulk’s pass 17 minutes from fulltime.

Victory moved SIPG onto nine points from three games. They lead the standings from Shandong Luneng, who also notched up a third win of the campaign as Diego Tardelli scored twice in a 2-1 win over Hebei China Fortune.

Defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande claimed their second win in a row as Alan Carvalho scored the only goal of the game for Fabio Cannavaro’s side against Henan Jianye after Ricardo Goulart had earlier missed a penalty.

Beijing Guoan won 3-0 against Dalian Yifang to leave last season’s China League One champions without a point as speculation mounts over the future of head coach Ma Lin, with Chinese media reporting Bernd Schuster is set to take over during the international break.

Chongqing Lifan claimed a surprise 4-1 win over Fabio Capello’s Jiangsu Suning with Liu Weidong scoring twice while Chongqing Yatai were held to a 1-1 draw by Beijing Renhe.

Tianjin Teda’s Franck Acheampong scored a hat-trick, including a 90th-minute winner, to beat local rivals Tianjian Quanjian 3-2 and Shanghai Shenhua secured their first league win of the season when Giovanni Moreno scored the only goal of the game against Guizhou Hengfeng.

Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Toby Davis

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