HONG KONG (Reuters) - Guangzhou Evergrande moved to within a point of reclaiming the Chinese Super League title on Wednesday as a brace from former Barcelona midfielder Paulinho ensured Fabio Cannavaro’s side claimed a 3-1 win over Hebei CFFC.
The result means a draw against Shanghai Shenhua on Sunday at Guangzhou’s Tianhe Stadium will be enough to secure an eighth league title in nine seasons for the club from southern China as they look to wrest the trophy back from champions Shanghai SIPG.
“I’ve always said that this season our home games will be more stressful,” said Cannavaro.
“However, I hope our players will perform as they did against Shanghai SIPG (when Guangzhou won 2-0) and show their confidence.
“Of course, a draw can win us the title so there will be less pressure on the players.”
Anderson Talisca put Guangzhou in front after 12 minutes when he set himself up to fire into the bottom corner and Paulinho doubled his side’s lead when he launched an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net four minutes before the interval.
The Brazil international then put the result beyond doubt when he scored from close range two minutes before the hour mark.
With one round of matches remaining, Guangzhou lead Beijing Guoan by two points and could have won the title on Wednesday evening had Bruno Genesio’s side not managed to pick up all three points in their meeting with Guangzhou R&F.
But two goals from Cedric Bakambu as well as efforts from Renato Augusto and Zhang Yuning earned Beijing a 4-1 win that means the battle for the title will go down to the final round of matches.
Shanghai SIPG’s slim hopes of keeping the defence of their title alive were extinguished by a 1-1 draw with already-relegated Beijing Renhe while Roberto Donadoni’s Shenzhen FC also drop into the second division next year following their 3-3 draw with Henan Jianye.
Rafa Benitez suffered his biggest loss since moving to China as Dalian Yifang were thrashed 5-1 by Tianjin Tianhe, who secured their top flight status for next season.
Shandong Luneng maintained their grip on fourth place with a 3-1 win over Tianjin Teda that keeps them one point ahead of Jiangsu Suning who beat Chinese FA Cup finalists Shanghai Shenhua 3-1.
Wuhan Zall, coached by former Everton midfielder Li Tie, guaranteed they would finish in sixth place in their first season back in the top division with a 1-0 win over Jordi Cruyff’s Chongqing Lifan.
Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge