By Michael Church
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Jiangsu Suning will face former champions Shanghai SIPG in the semi-finals of the Chinese Super League playoffs next week after Cosmin Olaroiu’s side handed 10-man Chongqing Lifan a 1-0 defeat on Saturday evening.
Ivan Santini’s goal in the ninth minute earned Jiangsu their place in the next round with a 2-1 aggregate win after their first leg meeting ended in a 1-1 draw.
The first leg of their clash with Vitor Pereira’s side, who won the title in 2018, will be on Oct. 29, with the return three days later.
Santini put Jiangsu in front when he reacted first to Eder Martins’ ball from the left before slotting his left-footed shot past Deng Xiaofei.
The Croatian was heavily involved throughout - including when the former Anderlecht striker had an outstretched arm aimed his way by Jiang Zhe 11 minutes after the restart, prompting a red card from referee Shi Zhenlu.
Earlier in the day, Giovanni von Bronckhorst’s Guangzhou R&F guaranteed their survival in the top flight of the Chinese Super League with a 2-1 win over Qingdao Huanghai in the second leg of their relegation playoff.
Two goals in seven minutes from Adrian Mierzejewski and Richairo Zivkovic late in the second half gave R&F the upper hand after the teams had played out a goalless draw in the first leg, with Jagos Vukovic’s 88th minute strike no consolation for the losers.
Qingdao, who were promoted to the Chinese Super League as winners of China League One last season, now face the prospect of an automatic return to the second tier and face Henan Jianye in the next round of the relegation playoffs.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Hugh Lawson)