Defending champions Shandong Luneng reclaimed the lead as Wang Yongpo's spectacular early free-kick secured a 1-0 win over Shanghai Shenhua at Shandong Sports Centre Stadium. Young midfielder Wang fired past Shanghai goalkeeper Wang Dalei from 40 yards after just 11 minutes as Shandong took advantage of Beijing Guoan's 1-0 defeat at Jiangsu Shuntian to move two points clear at the top of the table.
"We played our best football in the first half, though the opponents appeared to be defence-minded," said Shandong's Serbian manager Ljubisa Tumbakovic.
"We deserved the victory and we will continue to focus on ourselves in the coming matches. We don't care about Beijing's results."
Striker Tan Si also struck early for Jiangsu as his ninth-minute effort handed Beijing their fourth defeat of the campaign. Third-placed Henan Jianye failed to take advantage of Beijing's defeat, as they were held to a goalless draw at Hangzhou Lucheng which leaves them four points adrift of Shandong.
Tianjin Teda are just three points behind second-placed Beijing after cruising to a 6-0 win at basement side Chongqing Lifan. Mao Biao scored twice in the first half while Wu Weian, Zaynitdin Tadjiev and captain Cao Yang were also on target in the first half before Han Yanming wrapped up the emphatic win in the last minute.
Elsewhere, Australian striker Brendon Santalab scored the crucial goal with 12 minutes remaining as Chengdu Blades edged out Changchun Yatai 2-1, while a 62nd-minute winner from Iraqi defender Alaa Hussein handed Qingdao Zhongneng a 2-1 home win over Changsha Ginde.
Finally, Shenzhen Kingway shared a 1-1 draw with Shaanxi Baorong, while Dalian Shide were held to a goalless draw by Guangzhou Guangyao.