SIPG limped to a 1-0 home victory over Thai minnows Chiangrai United in coach Vitor Pereira’s first game in charge since taking over from the Portuguese Andre Villas-Boas.
Compatriot Pereira, whose appointment late last year was met with a lukewarm response from SIPG fans, has vowed to achieve what Villas-Boas could not and win some silverware in his debut season in China.
But they will have to play better than they did on a chilly and heavily polluted Tuesday night in Shanghai and they had international winger Yu Hai to thank for his scrappy 48th-minute winner.
Attacking midfielder Oscar, who moved to the Chinese Super League (CSL) a year ago from Chelsea for an Asian-record 60 million euros, wore gloves to protect himself in the freezing conditions.
But the 26-year-old refused to use the bitter cold as an excuse for last year’s Champions League semi-finalists.
“The cold weather was the same for both teams. I think we played quite well and the goalkeeper of the other side was very good,” said the Brazilian.
“We still need to improve in many aspects and to play better in the next stage.”
SIPG, who were captained by the Brazilian striker Hulk, go into a Champions League group containing Kawasaki Frontale of Japan, Australia’s Melbourne Victory and Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea.
The CSL season does not begin until March, meaning SIPG and the other Chinese sides are still in pre-season.
But Pereira, whose previous job was a disastrous spell at 1860 Munich in Germany, said that he could see the team taking shape as he wants it.
“As a coach I want to build a powerful team,” he said.
CSL rivals Tianjin Quanjian also won their play-off, against Ceres-Negros of the Philippines, thanks to two goals from French striker Anthony Modeste in a 2-0 home victory.
They go into Champions League Group E alongside Kitchee SC of Hong Kong, Kashiwa Reysol of Japan and the South Koreans Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
CSL champions Guangzhou Evergrande and FA Cup winners Shanghai Shenhua complete the Chinese contingent in Asia’s premier club competition.
The pool stage begins on February 12.
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