Tianjin Teda missed the chance to move to the top of the Chinese Super League when they suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Qingdao Zhongneng.
Liu Jian's 69th-minute goal was enough to earn Qingdao a surprise victory and deny Tinajin the chance to capitalise on Shanghai Shenhua's loss to Dalian Shide on Saturday.
Tianjin dominated the game, with Cao Yang and Hao Junmin both threatening the home side, but they were unable to turn that superiority into goals.
They were to pay in the second half when Liu controlled the ball on his chest before volleying home after a failed attempt to clear by defender Wang Xiao.
"Our forwards wasted too many good chances," said Tianjin coach Jozef Jarabinsky. "Without scoring, all other players' efforts were wasted.
"Tianjin have never had a chance to bid for the championship in their history, but now everyone should be responsible for attaining that goal."
Qingdao Zhongneng coach Yin Tiesheng said: "We are not as strong as Tianjin. The victory was just a result of good luck."
Tianjin now have 13 points, level with Beijing Guo'an, Changchun Yatai, Shanghai Shenhua and Dalian Shide. Beijing lead the CSL table on goal difference.
Sunday's other games both ended in scoreless draws with Xiamen Lanshi held by Henan Jianye and Changsha Ginde tying with Shaanxi International.