After a terse first half that remained scoreless and without a shot on target, China managed a resolute 1-0 win over a Saudi Arabia side desperately missing the impact of injured striker Nasser Al-Shamrani.
Guizhou Renhe midfielder Yu Hai scored the winning goal from a free kick in the 81st minute, but not before Naif Hazizi failed to capitalise on the golden chance of a penalty kick that was poorly taken and guessed correctly by Shandong Luneng goalkeeper Wang Dalei shortly after the hour mark.
Yu Hai’s delivery into the back of the net was perhaps unintentional, with his shot deflected off the wall and catching Waleed Abdullah off-guard.
The game wasn’t without its other chances and China’s Wu Xi was close near the end of the first half, with his footwork providing him with the space to shoot narrowly wide. Saudi Arabia also tested China’s high-pressing back line on numerous occasions with fast breaks forward.
China’s Wang Dalei managed to pick up the Most Valuable Player award for his match-making save, with his birthday making the day an even more special occasion.