HONG KONG, July 21 (Reuters) - Marko Arnautovic headed home on his Chinese Super League debut on Sunday as defending champions Shanghai SIPG were held to a 2-2 draw by Chongqing Lifan on a day when Beijing Guoan finally relinquished top spot.
Arnautovic, who joined SIPG from West Ham United earlier in the month, came off the bench to give Shanghai a 2-1 lead in the 63rd minute, only for Alan Kardec to equalise nine minutes later.
That meant Vitor Pereira’s Shanghai missed the opportunity to join Guangzhou Evergrande at the summit after Beijing Guoan, who had been top since the fourth round of matches, were beaten 1-0 by Jiangsu Suning.
Beijing led the standings by two points going into this week’s 19th round, but Eder’s successful 38th minute penalty for Jiangsu condemned Roger Schmidt’s side to a third defeat of the season.
As a result, seven-time champions Guangzhou Evergrande ended the weekend one point ahead of Beijing, having handed cross-city rivals Guangzhou R&F a 5-0 thrashing on Saturday, with new Brazilian signing Elkeson claiming a hat-trick.
That win saw Fabio Cannavaro’s side extend their winning run in the league to 10 straight games and put themselves in pole position for the first time this season.
“We have won 16 games and it is incredible when we review it now,” said Schmidt after Beijing’s loss in Nanjing.
“Today we lost and now another team is ranked first in the standings, but we still have 11 games to go and we will continue to fight and fight.”
SIPG are third, two points behind Evergrande on 47 points, as Pereira’s side battled back from Fernandinho’s opener in first-half injury time, with Yuan Mincheng’s own goal levelling for the champions after 51 minutes.
Arnautovic then put SIPG in front with a fierce downward header from Oscar’s curling cross from the left, only for Kardec to secure a point for Jordi Cruyff’s side.
Shandong Luneng consolidated their hold on fourth place with a 3-0 win over Shenzhen FC as Marouane Fellaini and Graziano Pelle both hit the target while Hebei CFFC and Tianjin Tianhai drew 2-2.
Rafa Benitez saw his Dalian Yifang side share a 3-3 draw with Tianjin Teda. The former Newcastle United manager, linking up again with striker Salomon Rondon, watched the Venezuelan international score an 84th minute equaliser on his debut. (Editing by Ian Chadband)