Jonathan Viera's 87th-minute strike earned Beijing Guoan a 2-1 win over Henan Jianye on Wednesday evening to move Roger Schmidt's side into first place in the Chinese Super League -- as Anderson Talisca had a debut to remember with a hat trick for Guangzhou Evergrande.
Beijing moved a point clear at the summit and ahead of Shanghai SIPG, who were held to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday evening with Shandong Luneng, as the league completed its first round of action since resuming after the World Cup break.
Cedric Bakambu gave Beijing the lead 32 minutes into the game when he capitalised on hesitation in the Henen defence but Feng Zhuoyi's 62nd-minute strike looked set to see the points shared and Guoan miss out on a move to the top of the table.
But Viera slotted home his left foot effort with just three minutes left on the clock to climb up the standings and into first place for the first time since the 18th round of games in the 2015 season.
"I predicted this would be a tough game before, so it was as I expected," said Schmidt. "I'm very happy that we won. We deserved it. It was not an easy thing for any of us to start an official match after such a long break.
"It's important that we won, but at the moment our ranking is not the most important thing. "We haven't even reached halfway through the season so there is no need to put too much emphasis on the rankings. I said we would be a challenger this season and now we are a very strong challenger."
Talisca, meanwhile, had a debut to remember for defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande as the Brazilian marked his first game since joining from Benfica with a stunning hat-trick.
The 24-year-old was joined in the starting line-up by compatriot Paulinho, who re-signed with Evergrande from Barcelona last week, and the seven-time champions were given few problems as they handed bottom side Guizhou Zhicheng a 4-0 thrashing.
China international striker Gao Lin gave Fabio Cannavaro's side the lead after just eight minutes with a spectacular bicycle kick and Talisca claimed his first just before the half-hour mark with a header from Yu Hanchao's corner.
Talisca scored his second in the 62nd minute when he completed a slick move with a curling shot from distance and, 16 minutes later, the Brazilian sealed his hat trick.
"I'm quite happy with my performance," said Talisca. "This was just my first match. The win is a result of the team effort, not just me. My teammates have provided lots of support.
"I haven't reached my best. I am still new here and there's lots to learn and settle in. I believe I can do better along the road."
Chris Coleman marked his debut as Hebei China Fortune head coach with a 0-0 draw on the road against Dalian Yifang while Shanghai Shenhua notched up a 1-0 win over Tianjin Teda thanks to a solitary goal from Demba Ba.