Guangzhou Evergrande widen CSL lead as Shanghai SIPG salvage draw
Andre Villas-Boas attempted to remain upbeat despite seeing his side slip further behind Guangzhou Evergrande as Shanghai SIPG's hopes of winning their first-ever Chinese Super League title took a hit on Thursday evening.
SIPG had a late goal from He Guan to thank for salvaging a point against Hebei CFFC on Thursday evening, but it was scant consolation to the Portuguese coach as Evergrande extended their lead at the summit to five points with a comfortable 3-0 win over Liaoning Whowin.
Evergrande now sit on 47 points, five more than SIPG with nine games remaining in the season with Tianjin Quanjian in third following their draw with Beijing Guoan.
"Neither side will be very happy about the result," said Villas-Boas, who saw Elkeson give his side the lead after just seven minutes.
"Both teams wanted to win. Now we have a five-point gap to Evergrande and things have become more difficult.
"However, we have to keep our faith. There are still nine rounds to go and everything is possible in football. We wasted lots of opportunities in this match and failed to increase the lead to 2-0. This was the reason we didn't win."
Ezequiel Lavezzi levelled for Manuel Pellegrini's side 19 minutes from time and a second for Hebei from Gao Zhunyi four minutes later looked set to give Pellegrini's team all three points.
But a late equaliser from He Guan gave SIPG a share of the points as Villas-Boas' side went for a fourth league game without a win.
There were no such problems for Evergrande as Ricardo Goulart scored a double after Paulinho had opened the scoring in a routine 3-0 win for Luiz Felipe Scolari's side at Liaoning Hongyun.
"It is a normal result for Evergrande," said the Brazilian. "We did very well in the match and took control of the game. We created so many opportunities and scored.
"We should have scored more goals. Of course, Liaoning also created some chances but it is a fair result."
Tianjin, meanwhile, missed the opportunity to close the gap on SIPG as Fabio Cannavaro's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Beijing Guoan.
Zheng Dalun and Alexandre Pato, from the penalty spot, had put Tianjin in front only for second half goals from Zhang Xizhe and Yu Yang to ensure Beijing coach Roger Schmidt remains unbeaten in the league since taking over at the helm of the club at the start of last month.
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch