Inspired Teixeira drags Jiangsu to first Chinese Super League title

Shanghai (AFP) –


Brazilian forward Alex Teixeira starred as Jiangsu Suning won their first Chinese Super League title with a 2-1 victory over Fabio Cannavaro's 10-man Guangzhou Evergrande on Thursday.

The second leg of the championship decider belonged to the 30-year-old Teixeira, who was strongly linked with a move to Liverpool before joining Jiangsu for 50 million euros in 2016.

In front of 9,386 spectators in Suzhou -- limited crowds have returned to Chinese football despite the lingering coronavirus threat -- the former Vasco da Gama and Shakhtar Donetsk man lit up what had been a dour tie for much of the two legs.

The first match ended 0-0.

Teixeira was central to the opener, dribbling from deep within his own half before being dragged down when through on goal, resulting in a red card, and he scored Jiangsu's second just after the break.

Substitute Wei Shihao pulled a goal back for Cannavaro's side but Jiangsu held on to snatch Guangzhou's league crown.

"As I told them before the game, everything in this life is about happiness and memories, and this they will remember for all their life," said Cosmin Olaroiu, Jiangsu's coach who has won league championships in his native Romania, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and now China.

"For most of them, it's their first trophy."

- Guangzhou rattled -

The first leg ended goalless and the return fixture was similarly devoid of goal-mouth action for most of the first half.

But with half-time approaching, up stepped Teixeira, racing two-thirds of the pitch only to be upended as he was bearing down on goal.

After consulting the video assistant referee (VAR), South Korean referee Ko Hyung-jin gave Jiangsu a free-kick just outside the box and sent off Guangzhou's He Chao.

Eder, the Brazilian-born Italian international, hit the free-kick into the wall but former Barcelona star Paulinho turned his back and the ball ricocheted off him and into the net.

Guangzhou, winners of the CSL eight times, were rattled and just two minutes into the second half it was 2-0.

Their former Everton defender Tyias Browning made a mess of a long ball and Teixeira darted past him before firing low into the corner from outside the box.

Cannavaro, the legendary defender who lifted the World Cup for Italy in 2006, made a triple change on 52 minutes as Guangzhou's title slipped from their grasp.

Wei headed in with 29 minutes left but Jiangsu and Teixeira would not be denied.

Prior to this, their best showing in the CSL was twice runners-up, each time behind Guangzhou.

Brazilian international Paulinho said the dethroned champions could have no complaints.

"We want to tell the fans sorry, today we have let you down," the 32-year-old said.

The CSL started in July, five months late and behind closed doors, with teams kept away from the public in two secure "bubbles" in Suzhou and Dalian to prevent coronavirus infections.

There were no reported virus cases and spectators were gradually allowed into stadiums in recent weeks.