China holds Saudi Arabia 1-1 in World Cup Asian qualifiers

China's players congratulate China's defender Zhu Chenjie after scoring an equaliser during the 2022 Qatar World Cup Asian Qualifiers football match between China and Saudi Arabia, at the Sharjah Football Stadium in the Emirati city, on March 24, 2022.

Zhu Chenjie scored from a late penalty kick as China held Saudi Arabia 1-1 in its penultimate game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers here on Thursday.

Before the match, the Saudis had been assured of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup due to Japan's 2-0 win over Australia earlier in the day, while China was already out of contention for a slot in the World Cup finals.

China showed aggressive defense in the first half, with Hao Junmin and Zhu being shown yellow cards respectively. Saleh Al-Shehri headed home from a corner kick to put the Saudis in front in first half injury time.

China's first chance came after the interval but Zhang Yuning's goal in the 53rd minute was disallowed for offside. In the 59th minute, Gao Tianyi came off the bench and replaced Liu Binbin to make his international debut. China later made two other changes to its line-up, with Yu Dabao and Jin Jingdao replacing Zhang and Xu Xin.

China's efforts finally paid off in the 82nd minute when it was awarded a penalty kick after a handball foul by Saudi Arabia. Zhu coolly converted it to tie the game 1-1.

Saleh Al-Shehri had a chance to net again in injury time but his shot from inside the box was tipped over and was then ruled offside.

China remains in fifth with the draw moving it onto six points from nine games. The Chinese will next face Oman away on March 30.

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