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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Luiz Felipe Scolari questioned the form of his Guangzhou Evergrande players after Gao Lin's late header salvaged a 2-2 draw against cross-city rivals Guangzhou R&F, who moved a point clear at the summit of the Chinese Super League.
Evergrande, six-time winners of the league title, took the lead after just nine minutes through Brazilian striker Alan Carvalho before an Eran Zahavi penalty and a curling free kick from Renato looked set to secure all three points for Dragan Stojkovic's team.
But Gao's late header earned a point for Evergrande, who sit in fifth place in the standings with seven points, three points behind new leaders R&F.
"I'm very worried about their form," said Scolari of his players. "The fact is the whole team seemed very low and I need to know what has happened to this team. I have a feeling that something weird must have happened, at least five, six or seven players were not in form.
"I think there is one reason the team seem to make trouble for themselves. Normally, if we seize the opportunities, we can make the game very easy because we are very strong.
"But everyone knows if you don't seize the opportunities, you will pay the price. I think we're still on the right track and we can still defend the championship."
Shanghai SIPG bounced back from last week's defeat by Evergrande to beat Shandong Luneng 2-1 to move into second place, level on nine points with Felix Magath's side, who led the standings at the start of the round.
Hulk gave SIPG the lead before going off with a knee injury that looks set to keep him out of Tuesday's Asian Champions League meeting with Japan's Kawasaki Frontale while Wei Shihao scored the winner after Papiss Cisse had levelled for Shandong.
Manuel Pellegrini's Hebei CFFC handed Shanghai Shenhua a 4-2 thrashing - with Brazilian striker Aloisio scoring twice - to claim their second win in a row and move up to fourth in the standings with eight points due to their unbeaten start to the season.
Beijing Guoan secured a 1-0 victory over Henan Jianye while Jiangsu Suning's struggles endured as last year's runners-up continued their winless run with a 2-1 loss against Chongqing Lifan to drop into last place in the standings.
Liaoning Whowin picked up their third draw in four games when they were held 1-1 by Changchun Yatai, Tianjin Teda were held scoreless by Guizhou Zhicheng and a goal from Sun Ke earned Tianjin Quanjian all three points against Yanbian Funde.
Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Pritha Sarkar