Match-winner Yu Hanchao labelled Guangzhou Evergrande’s 3-2 win over Shanghai Shenhua on Friday as “perfect” as Luiz Felipe Scolari’s defending champions ominously moved three points clear at the top of the Chinese Super League after recording a fourth straight win.
Yu netted the winner with four minutes remaining at Tianhe Stadium as Guangzhou fought back from a 2-1 half-time deficit to extend their unbeaten home record to 35 games.
Having won the last six domestic titles relatively unchallenged , Guangzhou have endured a slow start to the season by their own standards, but are now firmly in their stride after recording a sixth consecutive win in all competitions.
“It was a perfect game for us. We’ve been struggling since the season started. We got three points and we achieved our goal,” said Yu.
“I think our performance was perfect as a whole. We experienced ups and downs in this game. We were very confident, and no matter what happened, we believed in ourselves.”
Watch: Guangzhou Evergrande 3 Shanghai Shenhua 2 highlights
Guangzhou rode their luck at the start of the contest as Shenhau’s Colombian midfielder Giovanni Moreno rattled the post after 17 minutes but took the lead seven minutes later as Brazilian Paulinho pounced from close range.
Mid-table Shenhua, though, turned the tie on its head before half-time as Colombian Fredy Guarin hit back five minutes later following an error from Guangzhou goalkeeper Zeng Cheng before Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins followed up from close range deep into first-half stoppage time.
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But after a Li Jianbin own goal with 19 minutes remaining as the defender spectacularly failed to clear Yu’s header back across goal, the substitute rounded off an intense period of pressure from Guangzhou with a finish from inside the area after the home side had struck the post and saw a shot cleared off the line in quick succession.
“I believe the fans enjoyed this game very much,” said Guangzhou coach Scolari, who had admitted concerns over Guangzhou’s form after a 2-2 draw with Guangzhou R&F at the start of April left his side fifth in the table. “Both the teams were very strong and the performances of the two teams was beyond their ability.
“Our fitness condition is better than other teams and my players carried out my tactics throughout the whole game.”
Cross-town rivals R&F can join Evergrande at the top of the table with a win at fourth-placed Shandong Luneng on Sunday.
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Shenhua, meanwhile, saw their mini revival ended after Gus Poyet’s side had won their previous two domestic outings having started the new season with just one win in their first four games.
“The efforts from everyone on the pitch made this an excellent game. It was a reasonable result,” said Poyet.
“Martins didn’t seize the opportunity in the second half, but Evergrande seized their opportunities and that’s why they won the game.
“I was deeply touched by this game. I felt the passion, we kept attacking after falling behind. It was a pity to lose such a game by our own mistake.”
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Carlos Tevez did not feature for Shenhua as the Argentinian continues to recover from a calf injury, while Guarin has emerged as a injury concern after being replaced at half-time with a heel issue.
And Poyet is also set to be without Moreno for at least next week’s visit to Henan Jianye after the Colombian was shown a second yellow card in stoppage time after catching Zhang Linpeng with an elbow as the pair jostled inside the penalty area.