AFC Champions League Standings
The Brazilian midfielder has been a crucial player for Guangzhou Evergrande and popped up with a brace midweek to lead them to a vital win...
Guangzhou Evergrande's only victory in the AFC Champions League Group G before matchday five was their opening round 7-0 hammering of Hong Kong side Eastern SC at home. Luis Felipe Scolari's side had since stumbled to three draws and were in a position where they had to win on matchday five against the same opponents.
That they did, in some style, with a 6-0 walloping of Eastern SC in Hong Kong. The result saw Guangzhou return to the top of the table with one more round to go. The win has ensured that the Chinese outfit only need a draw in their final group game to qualify for the knockout stage.
The engine behind this vital victory was none other than former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho, who has revived his career at Guangzhou of late. The 28-year-old bagged the first goal on Tuesday for his side with a header from Zhang Linpeng’s cross, as early as in the eighth minute, settling whatever nerves Scolari might have had.
That set the tone for an imperious performance by the Brazilian who went on to notch his side's fifth goal late on by reacting first to a parry from the Eastern goalkeeper. Between his two goals, Paulinho was dominant all over the midfield, covering every blade of grass as Eastern SC struggled to find any respite throughout 90 minutes.
Paulinho's has dovetailed beautifully with Zheng Zhi in midfield and the partnership was also instrumental in Guangzhou negating Eastern SC completely.
Paulinho's involvement in the game can be inferred from the 102 touches he had of the ball, meaning he got on the ball one or more times every minute. He sprayed out a commendable total of 89 passes as well, with an impressive 97% success rate. The numbers sing the tale - Paulinho's mastery was too hot to handle for Eastern SC.