Former Brazil international Paulinho made a dream start to his time Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder scored a cracking free kick in the 40th minute of his first start to help Evergrande to a 3-1 win over Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol in the first leg of the quarter-finals at Hitachi Kashiwa Stadium.
Paulinho, who joined the club in June, told the Asian Football Confederation website that the goal was the “best” he’s ever scored.
“My team-mates did very well against such strong opposition, but the most important thing now is to prepare for the upcoming Chinese Super League and AFC Champions League games,” he said.
“I am happy with the free-kick, but what I am most happy with is helping the team win an away game which is a big step towards progress in this kind of competition. That was definitely the best goal I have scored in my career.”
Paulinho’s free kick was bookended by an early own goal from Kashiwa captain Daisuke Suzuki in the fifth minute and a strike from Chinese international forward Gao Lin ten minutes into the second half.
Kashiwa managed to pull a goal back through striker Masato Kudo. The second leg will take place at the Guangzhou Tianhe Sport Center on September 15.