Five-star Guangzhou send out warning to title rivals

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande fired off a warning shot to their Chinese Super League title rivals on Wednesday as Fabio Cannavaro’s side thrashed Hebei China Fortune 5-0 to advance to the semi-finals of the championship playoffs.

Anderson Talisca and Fernandino both scored twice as Evergrande completed an 8-1 aggregate win over Hebei to set up a last four meeting with either Beijing Guoan or Shandong Luneng, who play the second leg of their quarter-final on Thursday.

Three goals late in the first leg had given Guangzhou the upper hand and there were to be few concerns for the eight-time champions as Talisca increased their advantage just before the half hour mark with a curling effort from the edge of the area.

Fernandino doubled the lead nine minutes before the break when he smashed his close range shot over goalkeeper Chi Wenyi and into the roof of the net.

The Brazil-born China international made it 3-0 in the 56th minute when he scored from close range after Elkeson’s attempt had been blocked by Chi. Talisca added the fourth six minutes later when he side-footed home from just inside the area.

Former Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho completed the rout nine minutes from time.

Guangzhou advance to the semi-finals, which will be played on Oct. 28 and Nov. 2 and will meet either Beijing or Shandong, with the scores in their meeting level at 2-2 after last Saturday's first leg.

Meanwhile, Tianjin Teda guaranteed their place in next year's Chinese Super League as a 1-1 draw with Shenzhen FC gave Wang Baoshan's side a 3-1 aggregate win and ensured they will not finish in the bottom two of the overall standings.

Tianjin led 2-0 from the first leg but John Mary’s goal in the 28th minute gave Jordi Cruyff’s side hope of overturning the deficit.

However, Felix Bastians' strike from close range following Odil Akhmedov’s in-swinging free kick 15 minutes from time earned Tianjin a draw and sealed the aggregate win.

Shenzhen will now face either Shijiazhuang Ever Bright or Dalian Pro over two legs next week, with the losers guaranteed to take one of the two relegation places.

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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