Chinese outfit Beijing Guoan turned a desperate beginning into a solid victory in the Asian Champions League last night.
The Imperial Guard needed a win over Kawasaki Frontale to finish second in Group E to book a spot in the Round of 16 and their coach, Hong Yuanshuo, admits the start was a little nerve-racking before his players finally got into gear and produced a 2-0 result.
"Everybody could see that nerves had affected our early performance. My players were under huge pressure to chase a good result therefore we appeared to be desperate initially," said Hong.
"Fortunately, we found our form just in time and the victory proved we are a mature team now.
"Playing negative football wouldn't necessarily lead to a draw. I asked my players to move up again and again.
"Finally, our efforts paid off because my players grasped the chances in attack. I was lucky to have a big reserve of good players. I was able to bring on different players in different games and the efficient rotation proved successful."
Hong said he was extremely proud of his players as they are China's only club to progress through to the final 16.
"We accomplished our goal and secured a foothold for China in the continental tournament," added Hong.
"I feel really proud of my players. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to my players and the club."