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Late Renatinho strike keeps R&F in Asian Champions League hunt

41   //    15 Oct 2017, 21:32 IST

By Michael Church

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Brazilian striker Renatinho struck two minutes into stoppage time to maintain Guangzhou R&F's slim hopes of qualifying for next year's Asian Champions League with a 3-2 win over Henan Jianye in the Chinese Super League on Sunday.

Dragan Stojkovic's side remain in sixth place with 43 points, six behind third-placed Hebei CFFC with three games remaining. Only the top three qualify for the continental championship.

"It was a very entertaining match with five goals and we have reached our target: to win," said Stojkovic.

"Our players played well and we fought until the last second. We achieved what we wanted.

"Our remaining three matches are important. We need to keep pushing our competitors in the rankings and put them under pressure. Every match matters. Right now we need to rest well and recover well, to leave enough time to prepare for the game against Shanghai SIPG."

Guangzhou Evergrande extended their lead in first place earlier in the weekend with a dramatic 4-3 win over Yanbian Funde, thanks to Liu Jian's stoppage-time winner.

Liu had opened the scoring for Luiz Felipe Scolari's side and the win, coupled with Shanghai SIPG's 3-3 draw against Liaoning Whowin on Saturday, leaves the champions six points clear.

With head-to-head records acting as the tie breaker between teams, Guangzhou could win their seventh successive title next week should they beat Guizhou Zhicheng and SIPG lose to Guangzhou R&F.

SIPG, meanwhile, have already shifted their attention to the Asian Champions League, with Andre Villas-Boas' side due to meet Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds in the second leg of the semi-finals on Wednesday. The first leg ended 1-1.

"We haven't created more opportunities than our opponent and we failed to kill the game," said SIPG assistant coach Xie Hui after his side's draw.

"Our focus will be on the game against Urawa on October 18. Our target will be the Asian Champions League and the Chinese FA Cup. From now on, these will be our priority."

Hebei CFFC strengthened their grip on third place with a 3-2 win over Fabio Capello's Jiangsu Suning as Tianjin Quanjian and Shandong Luneng - in fourth and fifth respectively - played out a 0-0 draw.

Manuel Pellegrini's team now have 49 points, four more than Quanjian and are a further two ahead of Shandong and Guangzhou R&F.

At the other end of the table, Tianjin Teda registered their third win in a row as Uli Stielike's side scored in the 91st minute to defeat Shanghai Shenhua 2-1 and move six points clear of 15th placed Yanbian Funde.

Elsewhere, Odion Ighalo scored twice as Changchun Yatai beat Guizhou Zhicheng 3-2.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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