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CSL: Hebei CFFC grab crucial victory in tight race for third place

Manuel Pellegrini said he told his players they would be playing for six points.

Hebei CFFC moved into sole possession of third place in the Chinese Super League on Sunday as the battle for places in next season's Asian Champions League intensifies.

Manuel Pellegrini's side beat Guangzhou R&F 2-1, with Aloisio and Zhang Lifeng giving them a two-goal cushion at half time before Yi Teng pulled one back for R&F, who slip to sixth in the table.

The win sees Hebei move to 42 points from 24 games, a point ahead of Tianjin Quanjian in fourth place.

Fabio Cannavaro's Tianjin beat Guizhou Zhicheng 3-1 on Sunday and have a game in hand over Hebei.

The results meant Felix Magath's Shandong Luneng, who drew 0-0 with Jiangsu Suning on Saturday, are now in fifth place.

"I told my players before the game that we were playing for six points," Pellegrini said. "Both sides are tight to each other on the rankings, so we had to win.

"Shandong's draw gave us a chance to climb to the third place and now we will try to get closer and closer to SIPG.

"There are five teams fighting for the Asian Champions League slots and this competition will become very intense in the final three games of the season."

Beijing Guoan missed the opportunity to close the gap on the teams above them when bottom side Yanbian Funde held them to a 4-4 draw.

Babacar Trawally scored a hat trick for Yanbian, including a last-minute equaliser, to leave Beijing seventh, five points behind Hebei.

Carlos Tevez, meanwhile, made his return for Shanghai Shenhua but it was not enough to stop Gus Poyet's team from falling to a 2-1 loss against Henan Jianye.

In the day's other game, Chongqing Lifan defeated Liaoning Whowin 2-0 thanks to goals from Wu Qing and Alan Kardec.

The result leaves Liaoning one point above the relegation zone.

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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