Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team took all three points after Zhang’s rising drive from outside the area arrowed into the top corner in the 61st minute before Changchun’s Odion Ighalo hit the post with 12 minutes remaining.
“We expected difficulties in this away game because we have never won easily here and today it was the same, the match was really tight,” said Scolari.
“Today we were better at creating and converting chances and that’s why we won.”
Victory means Evergrande maintain their two-point lead at the top of the standings over Shanghai SIPG, who beat Tianjin Teda 1-0 on Sunday thanks to a solitary goal by Fu Huan.
Shandong Luneng, however, slipped up as Felix Magath’s side surrendered a one-goal lead to allow Jiangsu Suning to pick up their first win of the season.
Jiangsu, who finished second in the league last season and were also runners up in the Chinese FA Cup, have struggled so far this year but moved up to 14th in the 16-team league with a 2-1 victory that came courtesy of Alex Teixeira’s stoppage time winner.
Guangzhou R&F are third despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Hebei CFFC. Eran Zahavi cancelled out Ezequiel Lavezzi’s late goal for Manuel Pellegrini’s Hebei side and the result leaves Dragan Stojkovic’s team five points off the summit.
“This game was very difficult, very hard, competitive and also very demanding,” said Stojkovic. “Our opponent is a super team.
“We can say that the team’s performance was very good and we got a draw, which is a very good result. We had to fight very hard from the beginning, and after going 0-1 behind to be able to draw the game is good.”
Guizhou Zhicheng beat Tianjin Quanjian 2-1 in Gregorio Manzano’s first game in charge as Fabio Cannavaro’s side went a fifth league game without a win to drop to 10th while Beijing Guoan’s Burak Yilmaz scored a brace in their 2-1 victory over Yanbian Fude.
Shanghai Shenhua, still without the injured Carlos Tevez, were held to a 0-0 draw by Henan Jianye and Liaoning Whowin picked up a 2-1 win over Chongqing Lifan. (Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Toby Davis)