Watch: Paulinho's stunning 35-yard free kick in Asian Champions League
KASHIWA, Japan (AP) — Former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho gave his new-look career a strong boost on Tuesday by scoring a stunning long-range goal as Guangzhou Evergrande of China reasserted its status as the team to beat in the Asian Champions League.
Paulinho, who joined the Chinese Super League side in June after a disappointing spell in the Premier League, scored the visitors' second goal in the 40th minute of the quarterfinal first leg as Guangzhou beat Japan's Kashiwa Reysol 3-1.
He slammed home an unstoppable free kick from 35 yards.
"I was surprised because it was the first free kick in my life," the 27-year-old Paulinho said of his wonder strike. "I never take free kicks because it's not my job. But I just thought I will try and see what happens, and then scored for sure the best goal of my life."
Kashiwa, hoping to avenge an 8-1 aggregate thumping by Guangzhou at the semifinal stage in 2013, got off to a disastrous start — going a goal behind in just the 5th when centerback Daisuke Suzuki headed Huang Bowen's free kick into his own net.
Paulinho doubled the lead before Gao Lin made it 3-0 in the 58th, heading another Huang delivery beyond Reysol goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno.
Masato Kudo claimed Reysol's consolation goal from close range in the 89th minute.