Media and soccer fans in China have raised new suspicions of match-fixing on Monday, following Tianjin Teda's 3-1 victory over Liaoning Whowin in the Chinese Super League (CSL) on Sunday.
Liaoning crushed Tianjin 5-0 in Wednesday's CFA (Chinese Football Association) Cup match, with Brazilian Edu scoring a hat trick and Argentinian Pablo Brandan supplying two more goals.
Wednesday's match was supposed to be a home match for Tianjin, but both clubs agreed to play in the newly built Huludao Olympic Games Sports Center - which is around 420 kilometers away from Tianjin - as the opening game of the stadium in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.
But on Sunday, to the fans' surprise, Liaoning removed all their foreign players from the lineup except Uzbek Shavkat Mullajanov, who turned out to be an unused substitute. Only one player from Tianjin played in both matches, with the club switching out 10 players between the two starting lineups.
Tianjin's win saw them go level with Changchun Yatai in the league table with 12 points as they pulled away from the relegation zone.
But one player from Tianjin Teda told Hunan-based newspaper Titan Sports on Sunday after the match that he has a clear conscience and does not care what anyone who wasn't on the pitch is saying.
Zhao Junzhe, the captain of Liaoning, said, "We planned to use an all-Chinese squad in an all-out attempt to win the game, but it turned out we were inferior to our opponent."
Ma Lin, head coach of Liaoning, when asked before the match if there was something "shady" going on between the two sides, said, "I'm not clear on that. Right now we're just preparing for the match. Of course if the club has some requirements, we'll follow them."
At the news conference following the defeat, Ma could only say "congratulations on Tianjin Teda's victory" before leaving the room.
Huang Yan, general manager of Liaoning Whowin, had denied his club was involved in anything unconventional.
"I can guarantee this wasn't match-fixing," Huang said. "In the pre-match meeting we even emphasized to the players they had to give it their all."
Chinese soccer games have suffered from a series of match-fixing and corruption scandals for many years.
An official with the CFA had confirmed Monday that the CFA will investigate the match.