Andre Villas-Boas is confident his Shanghai SIPG side can lift the Chinese FA Cup despite Obafemi Martins giving Shanghai Shenhua a 1-0 win in the first leg of the final on Sunday.
Martins scored from close range to give Wu Jingui’s side the advantage against Villas-Boas and his expensively-assembled side.
SIPG were runners-up to Guangzhou Evergrande in the Chinese Super League and lost in the AFC Champions League semifinals, leaving the cup as their last chance of silverware.
“It was a very difficult game,” Villas-Boas said. “We had more possession, but Shenhua defended well.
“In the second half we tried hard to get through their back line but they managed to block us. Our players gave everything, and there was no one to blame.
“When we play against Shenhua at home we can score a lot of goals, so I think we can win the trophy after the second leg.”
Martins struck seven minutes before half-time when he steered in Liu Ruofan’s low cross to leave Wu and his team 90 minutes from their first Chinese FA Cup since 1998.
“The game went as we expected,” coach Wu said. “SIPG were very aggressive and had a lot of power in midfield and attack.
“We could only fight by running more, defending endlessly and having the spirit to give everything to achieve such a good result.
“But the Chinese FA Cup final is a two-legged tie, and we are just done with the first half of the 180 minutes.
“We have play the second half in their home, so I hope we can keep it up.”
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch