Yaodong Cheng made three changes to the China team from their previous encounter against Tajikistan with Wen Jiabao coming in place of defender Wu Shaocong, Yang Yilin for midfielder Xu Haoyang, and Xu Lei replacing striker Liu Chaoyang in the 2018 AFC U-19 Championships.
Khaled Abdullah Mohammed made two changes to his squad with striker Feras Albirakan and midfielder Hazim Al-Zahrani making way for Mohammed Al-Shanqiti and Abdullah Alhamddan.
Group D: Saudi Arabia defeat China 1-0
(KSA: Abdulmohsen Al-Qahtani 81’)
Saudi Arabia claimed a crucial victory over China in inclement weather at the Patriot Candrabhaga Stadium in Bekasi. China became the second team to be eliminated after suffering two losses from their opening two games.
Saudi Arabia changed from 4-4-2 to a 3-4-3 formation with Khalid Al-Ghannam exploring down the left wing and Mohammed Al-Shanqiti operating as a left midfielder. The Green Falcons with 63% ball possession, reeled off 14 shots, of which seven were on target, while four were off the mark.
With 422 passes to their credit, they had a good mix of eight long-range efforts and six shots from inside the penalty area. Saud Abdulhamid looked steady for the Saudis, winning four tackles, as the entire team had put in thirteen interceptions and won a total of 21 tackles.
China employed a 4-4-1-1 formation. With Yang Yilin and Liu Ruofan performing the role of wingers, it changed into a 4-2-3-1 style. Only one of their seven shots found the target, which has been a primary concern for the Chinese coach. Defender Zhu Chenjie made six crucial interceptions in defense while Peng Peng made five excellent saves.
Liu Ruofan found Tao Qianglong who had a weak attempt at the goal with only the Saudi custodian Abdulrahman Alshammari in front of him, who saved with a brilliant left-hand stop.
Khalid Al-Ghannam found Abdullah Alhamddan in space who reeled off a right-footed strike which grazed over the crossbar following a deflection from Chinese defender Zhu Chen Jie.
A crucial interception from the Chinese captain Zhu Chenjie prevented Khalid Al-Ghannam from pulling the trigger from close range.
Saudi captain Hassan Altambakti’s long-range effort was parried away by Peng who raced in to collect the ball.
Toying with the Chinese defence, Khalid Al Ghannam had five successful dribbles in the match forcing another excellent save from Peng Peng.
Abdulmohsen Al Qahtani side-stepped past Wen Jiabao and struck a left-footed shot which was partly stopped by Peng before dribbling into the goal. Mansor Al-Beshe came up with the assist.
The Dragons will be playing for pride against Malaysia in their last league game. The Green Falcons would like to keep their winning streak going when they take on Tajikistan.