Zhu Yifan's second-half strike saw defending Chinese Super League champions Beijing Guoan earn a hard-fought 1-0 victory over 10-man Shaanxi Baorong at Beijing Workers' Stadium.
Coach Hong Yuanshuo fielded a clutch of young players including Zhu, Wu Hao and Zhang Xinxin in the starting line-up as he rotated his squad.
The visitors proved more dangerous initially and Sierra Leone international Mohamed Kallon came close to opening the scoring for Shaanxi midway through the first-half with a close-range header but goalkeeper Yang Zhi produced a reflex save.
Shaanxi went on to dominate but Beijing took the lead in the 69th minute when Zhu curled in a finish. The game turned more physical in the remaining 20 minutes and Shaanxi's Brazilian defender Celio Ferreira dos Santos was sent off six minutes from time after picking up his second yellow card for a reckless challenge on Yang.
"We worked hard to overcome fatigue because my side are competing in both Asian Champions League and the domestic league," Beijing boss Hong said. "I can still tap the reserve of my talented players in the next CSL game."
The defending champions are now in the second place with nine points after four games. Shaanxi assistant coach Gong Lei was encouraged with what he saw despite the defeat. "I believe our side will do better in the domestic league. We will eventually achieve a good result this year," he said.
Elsewhere, Shenzhen went top after they defeated Changchun Yatai 2-1 thanks to goals from Li Fei and Vyacheslav Hleb. In other games, Dalian Shide shared the spoils with Shandong Luneng in a 2-2 draw while Jiangsu Shuntian were held to a goalless draw by Henan Jianye.