Wu Lei scored two minutes from time to earn Shanghai SIPG a last-gasp 3-2 win over Chongqing Lifan on Sunday evening that ensured Guangzhou Evergrande were unable to extend their advantage at the top of the Chinese Super League.
SIPG claimed the three points in a see-saw battle while Guangzhou picked up a 2-1 victory over Henan Jianye as Luiz Felipe Scolari's side started life without Barcelona-bound Paulinho with another win in the league.
Guangzhou, the six-time defending champions, had goals from Ricardo Goulart and Alan Carvalho to thank for a win that moves Scolari's team on to 50 points from 22 games, five more than SIPG with eight games remaining.
"Before the match we knew it would be very difficult," said Scolari. "Henan is a very well organised team and their defensive line was very good.
"Today we were too anxious to score goals, and that anxiety didn't do us any good with our final shot. But of course in the end we gained what we wanted."
Hulk gave SIPG the lead in their meeting with Chongqing from the penalty spot before Hyuri's penalty levelled the scores 10 minutes into the second half.
Odil Ahmedov put SIPG back in front but Liu Huan looked to have salvaged a point for Chongqing with his goal in the 87th minute, only for Wu Lei to claim the win for SIPG with his effort just a minute later.
"What happened in this game was similar to our recent situation," said SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas.
"We had the chance to finish the game at an earlier stage but we didn't convert our chances.
"Our scoring efficiency was not good enough which will make things more difficult in later games. However, what satisfied me was that we eventually won. The three points are super important to us."
Meanwhile, Guangzhou R&F missed the chance to move into third place when Dragan Stojkovic's side were handed a 2-0 loss by Guizhou Zhicheng while Changchun Yatai were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom side Yanbian Funde.
Beijing Guoan continued their impressive run since the arrival of Roger Schmidt as the club from the capital hammered Liaoning 4-0, with Jonatan Soriano scoring twice as Zhang Xizhe and Renato Augusto also found the back of the net.