Paulinho on target as Evergrande closes in on CSL title
Brazilian duo Paulinho and Elkeson scored as Guangzhou Evergrande won 3-1 at Beijing Guoan in an enthralling clash at the top of the Chinese Super League on Sunday.
Evergrande's 13th victory on the spin propels Fabio Cannavaro's side into a seven-point lead over Beijing and it now has one hand on the CSL crown.
There are just eight rounds of matches left, and Frenchman Bruno Genesio — newly installed at Beijing — will need to inspire something special if the team is to overhaul Evergrande.
Cannavaro's men, who have been in devastating form since the turn of the year, took just 10 minutes to go ahead at a near-capacity 66,000 Workers' Stadium in the Chinese capital.
Beijing defender Liu Huan inadvertently headed the ball straight into the path of Paulinho and the former Barcelona midfielder emphatically buried the opportunity.
In a full-blooded affair, Genesio's side equalized seven minutes later when striker Zhang Yuning cleverly headed the ball into the bottom corner with a deft flick.
There were more chances in the second half and French-born Congolese striker Cedric Bakambu nearly scored a freak goal in the 50th minute for Beijing when he slipped, accidentally clipping the ball over Evergrande goalkeeper Liu Dianzuo.
But the ball struck the inside of the post before bouncing out. It was to be a turning point.
Two minutes later Elkeson, the Brazilian who is on the brink of switching nationalities to Chinese, struck when the ball bounced into his path in the box and he finished smartly.
In the 59th the 30-year-old striker turned provider, slipping in Yang Liyu.
Reigning champion Shanghai SIPG is third and still theoretically in the running to retain its title, just one point behind Beijing.
However, Vitor Pereira's side has stuttered of late and could only draw 2-2 at mid-table Guangzhou R&F on Friday, its fourth stalemate in a row in the league.
In the other CSL match on Sunday, Chongqing Lifan was held 1-1 at home by Tianjin Tianhai.