Tianjin Quanjian and Shanghai SIPG advance to ACL group phase
Chinese Super League duo Tianjin Quanjian and Shanghai SIPG secured their places in the group phase of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday evening, seeing off Ceres Negros of the Philippines and Thailand's Chiangrai United respectively.
Tianjin, under new coach Paulo Sousa, had few problems in front of their own fans as a brace from Anthony Modeste ensured last season's third place finishers advanced to the tournament proper.
"It is great inspiration for Chinese football because there will be a new Chinese team playing in the Asian Champions League," said Sousa as Quanjian secured a place in the group phase for the first time.
"We have the faith to continue our journey successfully, to overcome every opponent and go further.
"In this game, we read what was going on in the match and reacted accordingly. In the first half we tried a lot on the ground, and then we realised that the pitch condition wouldn't allow this style. We had to be more direct and straightforward. The ultimate purpose was to win."
Modeste gave his side the lead 18 minutes into the first half with a header before confirming Tianjin's progress with a goal on the break in the 57th minute. In the next phase they will face Kitchee of Hong Kong as well as former champions Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea and Japan's Kashiwa Reysol.
SIPG, meanwhile, made harder work of their playoff against Thai Premier League side Chiangrai United, with Yu Hai's goal three minutes into the second half all that separated the sides.
Shanghai were playing their first game under new coach Vitor Pereira, who replaced Andre Villas Boas at the end of last season, and the Thai side made life difficult for the Chinese Super League runners-up.
Yu eventually ensured SIPG would progress when he headed home from close range after the Chiangrai defence failed to clear.
Shanghai will now advance to the group phase where they will face Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale, Australia's Melbourne Victory and Ulsan Hyundai from South Korea.
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch