Striker Odion Ighalo’s Chinese Super League club, Changchun Yatai, have dropped to the second division after they lost 2-0 to Dalian Yifang at the Dalian Sports Center Stadium in Sunday’s final league game.
Four teams were battling to avoid joining already relegated GuizhouZhicheng in dropping into China League One on a thrilling finale to the CSL campaign.
Tianjin Teda, Chongqing Lifan, Changchun Yatai and Dalian were all locked on 32 points going into the last game of the season.
Dalian, coached by former Real Madrid player and manager Bernd Schuster, occupied the last relegation place ahead of kick-off because of their inferior goal difference.
But, in front of their fans, they had their fate in their own hands because they faced Changchun.
Colombian striker Duvier Riascos scored with a header midway through the first half for the hosts, putting them within sight of safety. Belgium international Yannick Carrasco then added a fine individual goal to help save Dalian from relegation on a nail-biting final day in the Chinese Super League.
Carrasco, who went to China at the start of the season for a reported 30 million euros from Atletico Madrid, struck in the 64th minute.
The 25-year-old winger evaded two weak challenges on the left before darting into the box and lashing the ball low into the far corner. Defeat condemned Changchun, CSL champions in 2007, to the drop and Carrasco fell to his knees at the final whistle in relief.
Changchun Yatai finished with 32 points from 30 games. Ighalo, who missed the game against Dalian Yifang through a hamstring injury, netted 21 goals for his team this season to finish as the second top scorer in the CSL.
Mikel Obi’s club Tianjin Teda survived the drop despite losing 5-1 away to Guangzhou Evergrande at the Tianhe Stadium.
They finished on 32 points but enjoyed a better head-to-head against Changchun Yatai.
Shanghai SIPG won the 2017/18 CSL title for the first time ever.
Obafemi Martins’ Shanghai Shenhua finished seventh in the CSL standing with 38 points from 30 matches.