Eran Zahavi scored three minutes from time to salvage a point for Guangzhou R&F against Hebei CFFC as Dragan Stojkovic’s side missed the opportunity to draw level with cross-city rivals Guangzhou Evergrande at the top of the Chinese Super League standings on Friday evening.
Zahavi scored less than a minute after Ezequiel Lavezzi looked to have earned Manuel Pellegrini’s side all three points, but the Israel international struck to deny Hebei a third win in a row.
“This game was very difficult, very hard, competitive and also very demanding,” said Stojkovic. “Our opponent is a super team.
“We can say that the team’s performance was very good and we got a draw, which is a very good result. We had to fight very hard from the beginning, and after going 1-0 behind to be able to draw the game is good.”
Victory would have moved R&F level on 19 points with Evergrande, who travel to take on Changchun Yatai on Sunday, but Stojkovic’s side now sit in third, two points behind the leaders.
Hebei are a further point behind in fifth and Pellegrini felt his team switched off after scoring what looked to the winner in the 86th minute.
“This was a very exciting game between two advocates of offensive and beautiful football and both teams created a lot of opportunities,” said the former Real Madrid coach. “We scored the first goal, but maybe we thought we were very close to victory and relaxed.”
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch