Changchun Yatai jumped up into second place and maintained their impressive unbeaten run with a strong 5-1 victory over Meizhou Hakka this past weekend.
The North-Eastern club have yet to lose since Svetozar Sapuric made his return at the beginning of July, placing themselves firmly in the chase for promotion.
Recent import signing Stefan Drazic, playing in just his second game for the club, opened the scoring just one minute after coming on as a substitute.
This was followed up quickly by club captain Zhang Xiaofei’s goal of the season candidate just three minutes later.
A corner ball looked to have been sent wayward when the 36-year-old left back smashed a volley from the edge of the box, flying into the top corner.
The home side were in control from the start and Tan Long extended the lead to three just 11 minutes later.
The visitors showed signs of a fightback after the half-time break, with a clean shot from Cui Wei beat Shi Xiaotian at the far post after 58 minutes.
Tan Tiancheng made sure the visitors’ resurgence didn’t last, slotting home after receiving the perfect pass from Xue Ya’nan on the edge of the box.
Cui Wei, Meizhou’s sole goalscorer on the night, found himself leaving the pitch early after receiving a VAR-adjudged red card for a poor tackle on Drazic late in the game.
His tackle initially received just a yellow, but the fact he slid in with his studs up, catching Drazic firmly on the shin, meant that he was given his marching orders.
Meizhou were run ragged by the home side in this game and Tan Long added a fifth, his second of the game, in the dying minutes of extra time.
Changchun now have five wins and three draws in their last eight games, an impressive run that has finally put the club in a position they expected to be in before the season began.