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China title race poised for last-day drama as Paulinho hits brace

Shanghai (AFP) – Paulinho scored twice for top-of-the-table Guangzhou Evergrande in a 3-1 victory on Wednesday but the Chinese Super League title race will go to the final day of the season.

Fellow Brazilian Anderson Talisca also netted in a comfortable win at Javier Mascherano’s Hebei China Fortune but Beijing Guoan thrashed Guangzhou R&F 4-1 away to set up a nerve-wracking finale to the campaign on Sunday. 

Fabio Cannavaro’s Evergrande are two points clear of Beijing and will host mid-table Shanghai Shenhua with one hand on their eighth league crown.

Bruno Genesio’s Beijing, the only side that can catch them, must beat fourth-placed Shandong Luneng at home and hope Evergrande slip up.

Talisca, who scored a brace for Cannavaro’s side against reigning champions Shanghai SIPG in last weekend’s pivotal 2-0 victory, was at it again on 12 minutes at Hebei.

The 25-year-old attacking midfielder took the ball on his chest close to the penalty spot and swivelled, firing the ball low and left-footed into the bottom corner.

Paulinho, formerly of Barcelona, made it 2-0 four minutes before half-time when he lashed into the net. Talisca got the assist.

The skipper Paulinho scored his second, from close range, just before the hour.

Former Paris Saint-Germain forward Ezequiel Lavezzi scored a consolation for Hebei with nine minutes left.

Cedric Bakambu, the French-born Congolese striker, grabbed a brace for Beijing at Guangzhou R&F to keep the capital club in the title tussle.

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