It's celebration time for Shandong Luneng.
Amid a sea of supporters clad in the team's orange jersey, the coastal side edged visiting Beijing Hyundai 1-0 last night before a packed house of 50,000 - a record attendance figure for this year's Chinese Super League - at Jinan Stadium to capture the 2006 CSL championship, with six rounds remaining in the season.
The victory, Shandong's 11th in a row and 19th in 23 starts so far this season, widened the gap on its nearest rival Changchun Yatai to an unassailable 20 points despite the later's 3-0 thrashing of Shenzhen Kingway earlier in the day. Shandong has collected 60 points.
Chinese international Han Peng grabbed the winner only three minutes into the match, slotting home a Zheng Zhi freekick.
Li Jinyu, the league's top scorer with 22 goals under his belt, almost doubled the margin before the break when his close-range header was tipped over by Beijing keeper Yang Zhi.
But the one goal difference was enough for Shandong to capture its second domestic top-division title after the victorious 1999 season.
With the championship clinched, Shandong will now be aiming for a brace on the domestic scene. It entertains International Xi'an in the second leg of the FA Cup semifinal on Friday, having already won the first leg 3-1 away.
Elsewhere yesterday, eight-time domestic champion Dalian Shide scraped past Shenyang Ginde 2-1 to climb up to fifth in the table, behind Beijing in fourth place.
(Shanghai Daily August 28, 2006)