Shanghai SIPG suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday as they lost 3-2 at reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
Andre Villas-Boas' team fought back to 2-2 having trailed by two goals at half time, only for a penalty from Ricardo Goulart 10 minutes from time to give Guangzhou their second league win of the season.
SIPG had gone into the game on a run of six wins in all competitions while Guangzhou were without captain Zheng Zhi, serving the second of a two-match suspension, and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was also absent due to a one-game stadium ban.
Yu Hanchao gave Guangzhou the lead after just 12 minutes and turned provider 12 minutes later as he set up Alan Carvalho to round goalkeeper Yan Junling and finish.
Eight minutes into the second half, SIPG started their fightback as Hulk's cross was met by Elkeson's diving header, and Hulk levelled in the 70th minute with a fine header following Oscar's cross.
But Guangzhou reclaimed the lead when Yu was brought down in the area by He Guan and Goulart stepped up to score from the spot.
"If the score is 3-2, it means there must be problems in the defence," Villas-Boas said. "But I won't discuss those in public. The coach should take responsibility for the final score.
"The result is not what we wanted. We settled into the match a bit slowly.
"The second half was quite open and 2-2 would have been a fair result.
"But we also saw how hard the Evergrande players tried. They were the team putting more effort into attacking in the last phase of the match.
"At the end, they were the side kissed by luck and got a penalty."
Guangzhou R&F maintained their winning start to the campaign with a 1-0 victory at Yanbian Funde.
A goal from Israeli striker Eran Zahavi proved enough as Dragan Stojkovic's side prepare for next week's Guangzhou derby against Evergrande.
R&F lead the standings by three points from SIPG with Evergrande in fourth, while Shandong Luneng, in third, face Changchun Yatai on Sunday.
Manuel Pellegrini's Hebei CFFC picked up their first win of the season after back-to-back draws when Hernanes' penalty saw off Guizhou Zhicheng at home.
Tianjin Quanjian also secured their opening victory as Liu Yiming's goal defeated Henan Jianye 1-0.