Chinese Super League leaders Guangzhou Evergrande fell to their first defeat of the season as they lost 1-0 to Tianjin Teda on Saturday.
Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu’s effort in the 16th minute went unmatched by the visitors to the Tianjin Olympic Centre Stadium, who simply could not get past Alexandre Guimaraes’ determined side who sit just one point off the relegation zone.
The only relief for Evergrande was that the teams directly below them could not take advantage of the rare defeat as Shandong Luneng and Beijing Guoan fell to Shanghai Shenxin and Changchun Yatai respectively.
The loss for Beijing, which was their first in five, saw the capital club robbed of the points by Changchun’s Isac who fired home a brace to seal a 2-0 scoreline.
But Shandong’s loss was slightly more marginal as a 55th-minute effort from Jiawei Yang served to separate the teams as Radomir Antic saw his side throw away a three-match winning streak.
However, it is Beijing who will perhaps suffer the most from their blip with Guizhou Renhe hot on their tails after holding Dalian Aerbin to a 1-1 draw on Friday.
Gong Lei’s men are pushing for an AFC Champions League place and they are just a little closer after their draw, which came courtesy of an early goal from defender Zhang Chenglin and saw Dalian midfielder Seydou Keita dismissed.
The 33-year-old, who has scored six goals for his team this season, picked up his first red card since 2009 but the host side still managed to hold on despite the disadvantage.
But for Guizhou, they will still face a battle for the Champions League place from Guangzhou R and F who also managed to pick up a point in their goalless encounter with Jiangsu Sainty.
Elsewhere during the weekend’s action, Shanghai Shenhua continued their impressive run, which has now seen them win three in a row, against Wuhan Zall on Saturday.
However, despite the winner coming deep in stoppage time for Firas Al-Khatib to see his team earn a 2-1 victory, their return to form may just prove a little late as they sit eight points off the top-three spots.
The same can be said for Hangzhou whose win by the same score over Qingdao Jonoon, courtesy of goals from 29-year-old Song Wang, sees them move up to ninth place with seven games to play.