Ezequiel Lavezzi's brace moved Hebei CFFC back up into fifth in the Chinese Super League (CSL) standings as Manuel Pellegrini's side maintained their hope of a place in next year's AFC Champions League with a 2-0 win over Tianjin Teda.
Lavezzi scored a goal in each half to move Hebei on to 36 points, two fewer than third placed Shandong Luneng, as the battle for the final place in the continental club championship intensifies.
"The three points are important for us as we returned to fifth place on the rankings, sharing the same points with Beijing and Guangzhou R&F," Pellegrini said.
"We will face these two teams at home and we have 24 more points to fight for. The competition for the Asian Champions League places will be between Shandong, Guangzhou R&F, Beijing Guoan, Tianjin Quanjian and us. These three points today are crucial."
Two points covers the five teams, but Shandong and Tianjin have played two games fewer than the remaining trio, with Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG looking increasingly assured of the top two spots.
Hebei needed to win on Monday evening to keep pace with the teams around them. Lavezzi put his side in front in the 25th minute when he volleyed home from eight yards out.
Nine minutes into the second half the Argentine doubled his side's advantage with a low shot from outside the area to keep Hebei's challenge alive.
"It was a tough game for both sides," the former Manchester City manager said.
"It is always a challenge for anyone to play on such a field.
"The fans were expecting to watch a good game but even though the pitch was not in good condition, we managed to play aggressively. We scored twice and we had chances to score more."