28 July 2014 16:54
Henan Jianye will attempt to escape the Chinese Super League’s relegation zone when they host fellow strugglers Changchun Yatai on Thursday.
Jia Xiuquan’s Henan side have endured a tough run in China’s top flight with just one win in their last six league matches.
However, it took a 74th-minute winner from Elkeson for table-topping champions Guangzhou Evergrande to leave the Zhengzhou Hanghai Stadium with all three points on Sunday.
And that plucky performance could spur Henan to victory against a Changchun side that may find themselves in the bottom two if they lose.
For that to happen, 14th-placed Liaoning Whowin will have to triumph at home to high-flyers Guangzhou RandF in Thursday’s other encounter.
And a surprise is not out of the question, as Whowin held their opponents to a 0-0 draw in March, while AFC Champions League hopefuls RandF have lost three of their last five CSL matches.
Teams in the lower echelons will now also be casting nervy glances towards bottom-of-the-table Harbin Yiteng, who had appeared cut adrift.
Back-to-back wins have moved Harbin to four points from safety, although that run looks set to end as they face the daunting prospect of a home clash against Evergrande on Wednesday.
If Harbin can spring an upset then second-placed Beijing Guoan can cut the seven-point gap at the top by beating Dalian Aerbin at the Workers’ Stadium.
Gregorio Manzano’s charges go into the game in poor form, though, having failed to win in their two matches since the CSL’s resumption.
Elsewhere, AFC Champions League contenders Shandong Luneng and Jiangsu Sainty square off, while Tianjin Teda and Shanghai SIPG – who also both harbour ambitions of continental competition – face Guizhou Renhe and Shanghai Shenxin respectively.
Also in action are Hangzhou, who have a home match with Shanghai Shenhua.