BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- China opened its Asian Cup with a 1-0 win over Group B rival Saudi Arabia on Saturday, with Yu Hai's late deflected free kick breaking the deadlock after Wang Dalei made a crucial save.
Yu scored in the 80th minute, his left-foot free kick from 30 yards deflecting off a defender and curling into the bottom of the net as Saudi keeper Abdullah Waleed dived to his right.
The Saudis pressed desperately for a late equalizer but lacked finish and paid a heavy price for Naif Hazazi's failure from the penalty spot in the 61st minute.
Hazazi was surging into the area on a counterattack when he was fouled by China defender Ren Hang, giving Saudi Arabia its best chance of the match. He fired low and right from the spot but Wang blocked it with his legs, a save that ultimately earned the Chinese goalkeeper the player-of-the-match award.
Chinese midfielder Wu Xi had the clearest chance of the first half but shot wide from the top of the area in the 43rd minute.
The Saudi squad was hoping to rebound from its last Asian Cup when it lost all three group games at Qatar 2011, but had a major setback in the hours leading up to the match when captain and forward Nassir Al Shamrani was ruled out with an abdominal injury.
China moved to the top of Group B with Uzbekistan, which opened with a 1-0 win over North Korea in heavy rain in Sydney earlier Saturday. Those teams will meet in Brisbane on Wednesday, when Saudi Arabia plays North Korea in Melbourne.