| HONG KONG
HONG KONG May 7 Guangzhou R&F missed the chance to join defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande at the top of the Chinese Super League standings on Sunday as Dragan Stojkovic's side slipped to a 3-0 defeat against Shandong Luneng.
R&F, who started the season unbeaten in their first six games, have now lost back-to-back league matches and are in fourth place on 16 points, three behind Evergrande.
Zhang Chi scored twice in seven first-half minutes to give Shandong a grip on the game and Diego Tardelli added a third on the hour mark, meaning Eran Zahavi's 75th minute miss from the penalty spot was academic.
"Today proves that if you are not tough enough you won't gain points," said Stojkovic. "We lost 3-0 and we didn't have a yellow card. We were a bit weak today.
"When you miss a penalty it means the night doesn't belong to you. It's not a bad thing that we lost, at least it will wake us up and maintain our own style."
Shandong, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, moved ahead of R&F on goal difference despite having played one game less while Manuel Pellegrini's Hebei CFFC moved into fifth, a point further back, after their 4-1 thrashing of Beijing Guoan.
Jonathan Soriano had given Beijing an early lead from the penalty spot but Li Hang levelled in the 28th minute before Ezequiel Lavezzi set up the first of three goals in which he was involved when Brazil's Aloisio put Hebei in front two minutes before the break.
Zhao Yuhao doubled Hebei's lead five minutes after the restart and Aloisio claimed his second of the night six minutes from time.
Guangzhou Evergrande moved into sole possession of top spot on Friday when Luiz Felipe Scolari's side fought back from a goal down to defeat Shanghai Shenhua, who were again without the injured Carlos Tevez.
Paulinho had given Guangzhou the lead in the 24th minute before Fredy Guarin and Obafemi Martins struck to put Shenhua in front at halftime. But an own goal by Li Jianbin and a late winner from Yu Hanchao secure all three points for Evergrande.
"Both sides were strong and today both played beyond their best and showed extraordinary desire to win," said Scolari. "I'm happy we have played well and that in the end we were the winning side."
Shanghai SIPG maintained their position two points behind Evergrande with a comfortable 3-0 win over Guizhou Zhicheng that was overshadowed by allegations from the Guizhou coaching staff that SIPG striker Hulk had punched one of the club's assistant coaches. The claims were denied by SIPG.
Jiangsu Suning remain rooted to the bottom despite their 1-1 draw with Yanbian Funde while Changchun Yatai's second win in three games, a 3-1 victory over Tianjin Quanjian, moved them up to 12th.
"We are short of a centre forward," said Tianjin coach Fabio Cannavaro, whose side have been heavily linked with a move for Chelsea forward Diego Costa. "Everybody knows, the chairman knows."
Henan Jianye emerged with the points from their five-goal thriller against Chongqing Lifan while Tianjin Teda and Liaoning Whowin shared a 1-1 draw. (Editing by Pritha Sarkar)