Missing former Chelsea playmaker Oscar as well as Brazilian forward Hulk and China international Wu Lei due to bans handed out by the Chinese Football Association, SIPG missed the chance to leapfrog Guangzhou Evergrande and move top for the first time since March.
Evergrande had slipped up against Beijing Guoan on Saturday, losing 2-0 as Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side were defeated for the second game in a row to give SIPG an opening, but the Shanghai club fluffed their lines.
Three goals in seven first-half minutes put Changchun in command with Szabolcs Huszti scoring from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute before efforts from Jiang Zhe and Tan Long gave the home side a comfortable cushion.
An own goal by Zhang Xiaofei nine minutes after the restart gave SIPG a lifeline, but Odion Ighalo claimed Changchun’s fourth to leave Li Shenglong’s goal in the 66th minute little more than a consolation as SIPG lost for the third time this season.
“It was a disappointing match, we didn’t expect this result,” said SIPG assistant coach Daniel Sousa, who took Villas-Boas’ place on the bench due to the Portuguese coach’s own suspension.
“Our opponents were better in the first half, and we were better in the second half with more control and more opportunities. However, opportunities don’t equal goals, so we failed to level the score.
“Now we can only hope for a better performance in the next game, to come back strong. We had a bad start but I don’t want to blame anyone for it. It is the team’s problem.”
Evergrande presented SIPG with the opportunity with their defeat against an inspired Beijing side playing their first game under new coach Roger Schmidt.
The coaching change had an immediate impact, with Jonathan Soriano scoring twice to give Beijing only their second win in the Chinese Super League in seven games.
Third-placed Hebei CFFC also lost in a poor weekend for the leading trio as Manuel Pellegrini’s side slipped up against Henan Jianye, Ezequiel Lavezzi’s double not enough to prevent a 3-2 defeat.
Shandong Luneng picked up a 2-0 win over Tianjin Teda that enabled Felix Magath’s fourth-placed side to close their gap to the top to nine points while Fabio Cannavaro’s Tianjin Quanjian also benefited from the struggles of the leaders thanks to their 2-1 win over Guangzhou R&F.
Fabio Capello’s Jiangsu Suning moved off the bottom of the table despite being held to a 2-2 draw against Shanghai Shenhua as Yanbian Funde’s 4-0 thrashing by Chongqing Lifan sent them to the bottom. Guizhou Zhicheng picked up a 1-0 win over struggling Liaoning Whowin.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)