With a 2-1 victory over Beijing Renhe on Wednesday, Shanghai SIPG — the home of Brazilian trio Hulk, Oscar and Elkeson — captured the 2018 Chinese Super League title, bringing an end to Guangzhou Evergrande’s seven-year title reign.
The club made international waves in recent years with the Brazilian signings and with managerial appointments including Sven-Goran Eriksson and André Villas-Boas, but SIPG finished runners-up in both 2015 and 2017. However, the triumph was secured this season with a match to spare under the leadership of Portuguese manager Vitor Pereira, who replaced Villas-Boas before the start of the season.
Former Chelsea star Oscar has excelled during his second season in China, scoring 12 goals and registering 21 assists in 27 CSL appearances.
Hulk has also been an absolute force, scoring 13 and providing 15 assists in 25 games. However, the true star of the side might be 26-year-old Chinese international Wu Lei.
Wu has been with the club since its 2006 formation in the Chinese third division. He made his debut that year as a 14-year-old, and he’s helped the club climb the Chinese pyramid while growing in influence ever since.
With 27 goals this campaign, Wu will finish as the CSL’s top scorer in 2018. He scored in today’s title-clinching victory, but the goal of the match was registered by SIPG’s other foreign star (you’re allowed four in the CSL, but only three can be used in a match), Uzbek international Odil Ahmedov.
Here’s SIPG celebrating its title inside Shanghai Stadium on Wednesday.
The club will now turn its focus to capturing the 2019 AFC Champions League title. SIPG reached the quarterfinals in 2016 and semifinals in 2017, but were knocked out in the Round of 16 by Japan’s Kashima Antlers this season. Kashima is poised to win the 2018 title on Saturday after defeating Iran’s Persepolis 2-0 in the first leg of the final back on Nov. 3.