Portuguese manager Vítor Pereira is celebrating after his Shanghai SIPG side claimed their first-ever Chinese CSL title on Wednesday, beating Beijing Renhe 2-1 on an historic day for the club.
Pereira’s men extended their lead at the top of the table over serial champions Guangzhou Evergrande to an emphatic eight points with just one match remaining. For the former Porto boss, the triumph means he has won the national title in three different countries.
Shanghai, who finished runners-up to Guangzhou Evergrande last season, hired Pereira last December to replace outgoing boss André Villas-Boas. The 50-year-old was charged with the task of going one better than his compatriot and breaking dominant force Evergrande’s run of seven straight league titles, the last three of which came under former Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Pereira won his first match in charge 8-0 against Dalian Yifang, and with former Porto star Hulk in the ranks, his team have ultimately cruised to the title by an astonishing margin after eight wins from their last nine matches. Crucial in the success was last weekend’s remarkable 5-4 away victory over Fabio Cannavaro's Evergrande, which saw Pereira’s men take the lead on three separate occasions during the match.
As well as Hulk and fellow Brazilian Oscar, Pereira’s cause has been aided by club legend Lei Wu, who tops the goal-scoring charts with 27 league goals from just 28 games. The forward, who scored 20 league goals for Villas-Boas last year, made his debut for the club as a 14-year-old and is already Shanghai’s all-time leading scorer with 169 goals at the age of just 26.
In winning the CSL title, Pereira joins José Mourinho and Artur Jorge in winning the national championship in three different counties. All three coaches started their collection at FC Porto, with Artur Jorge also winning the French title with Paris Saint-Germain (1994) and the Saudi Arabian League with Al-Hilal (2002), while Mourinho has conquered Spain, Italy and England with Real Madrid, Inter and Chelsea respectively.
For Pereira, whose five-year world tour since leaving Portugal has also seen spells in charge of Fenerbahce in Turkey and 1860 Munich in Germany, the CSL title adds to a collection which boasts the Greek Super League and Greek Cup with Olympiakos, in addition to his back-to-back Portuguese League wins with Porto in 2012 and 2013.
By Sean Gillen