Li Haotong will take a narrow lead into the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday, one shot ahead of two-time winner Rory McIlroy.
The Chinese star fired a 64 on Saturday to get to 20 under and will be aiming for a second European Tour victory.
McIlroy, the leader after round two, shot a back nine of 32 for a 68 as he aims to equal Ernie Els as a three-time winner at the Dubai event.
Alexander Levy and Haydn Porteous were at 17 under, a shot clear of Andy Sullivan and two ahead of David Horsey.
Horsey was 15 under after a 68, a shot clear of Rafa Cabrera Bello, Dylan Frittelli, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton, David Lipsky, Thorbjørn Olesen, Chris Paisley and Jeunghun Wang.
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