Jonathan Soriano brace lifts Beijing Guoan in China Derby
Jonathan Soriano scored twice as Roger Schmidt's winning start as Beijing Guoan boss continued with a 2-1 win over Shanghai Shenhua in the China Derby on Sunday evening that kept the club's hopes of a top-three finish intact.
Victory moves Beijing up to sixth in the standings, but with only five points covering the teams from third to eighth, Schmidt and his team will be harbouring hopes of a late run at the final qualifying berth for next year's Asian Champions League.
Beijing's chances were enhanced by Tianjin Quanjian's 1-1 draw with Henan Jianye, which meant Fabio Cannavaro's side were unable to make up ground on Guangzhou Evergrande and second-placed Shanghai SIPG after the leading duo shared the points in their meeting on Saturday.
"I'm not very satisfied with one point," said Cannavaro, whose side played out the final 19 minutes with 10 men following Mi Haolun's sending off for a second bookable offence. "When we did not have a player missing, the team was sticking to my tactics. The weather was hot but the game progressed as I expected until we had a player sent off.
"This one small thing changed the outcome of the game, that's why I'm not very happy."
Zhao Xuri gave Tianjin the lead in the first half before Zhong Jinbao salvaged a point for Henan 13 minutes from time.
Beijing, meanwhile, secured a third win in a row thanks to a brace from Soriano in a hotly contested China Derby against Shenhua.
Soriano's opener came in the 31st minute with a fine finish on the turn before Giovanni Moreno levelled the score two minutes later from close range after controlling the ball on his chest.
But Soriano's penalty three minutes into the second half proved to be the difference between the teams as Carlos Tevez saw his late attempt clip the top of the Beijing crossbar.
"This was a very entertaining game," said Schmidt. "We knew how special it would be. Our team was in good shape and they were passionate.
"Shenhua was very aggressive in the second half so we couldn't score more, but we managed to maintain the scoreline until the end. The previous home match had been a challenge and so was this one.
"The team showed the right attitude. We work as a team and solidarity can bring us lots of confidence. In the future our game will also benefit from that. The players have been great."
Meanwhile, Eran Zahavi scored four to take his tally for the season to a league-leading 18 goals as Guangzhou R&F handed bottom side Yanbian Funde a 6-2 thrashing.
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch