The Socceroos were in second position ahead of Wednesday morning’s (AEDT) encounter after falling 2-1 to Japan before enduring a goalless draw at home to Saudi Arabia last week.
Graham Arnold’s men enjoyed a blistering start once again with Milos Degenek replacing the injured Harry Souttar in defence while Mitch Duke was rewarded with a place upfront.
However, Mat Ryan was called into action after just three minutes when he was forced into an important save as he denied Chinese striker Alan.
It was now the Socceroos’ turn to trouble China’s defence with Martin Boyle’s cross flashing across the opposition’s goalmouth before Jackson Irvine produced a chance after meeting Aziz Behich’s ball into the box.
Next to test China’s resolve was Mat Leckie when his strike from another Boyle cross was blocked by China’s shot stopper, Junling Yan, as Australia looked to gain the upper hand.
The Socceroos quality was beginning to shine through as they took control of proceedings with a pinpoint Ajdin Hrustic free kick calling Yan into action.
Australia’s powerful first half performance was eventually rewarded seven minutes before the break thanks to a pinpoint cross from the ever-dangerous Boyle that was met with an expert downward header by Duke at the near post.
The first half action did not end there with Leckie coming close to doubling his side’s lead after he was picked out by Hrustic’s pinpoint cross before Yan snapped up the danger with an important block.
Australia kept the pressure on China after the break and seemed to be in cruise mode as they looked to record maximum points for the first time in three attempts.
However, the match soon turned on its head with 20 minutes remaining when VAR intervened after James Jeggo was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
China’s Wu Lei stepped up to convert the resulting spot kick and peg back the scoring against an Australian outfit that were in danger of being dumped out of the top two automatic World Cup qualification spots.
In fear of more dropped points, Arnold brought on reinforcements in the form of A-League golden boot winner Jamie Maclaren and attackers Awer Mabil, Nikita Rukavytsya and Riley McGree. However, they too were unable to provide that much needed spark as Australia were forced to settle for a share of the points.
A draw has seen the Socceroos drop into third position in Group B with Japan overtaking them on the table after they overcame Oman 1-0 in their fixture overnight.
Australia will now have to wait until January for their next World Cup qualifier as they prepare to host Vietnam before making the trip to Oman.
Duke and Ryan vented their frustrations after their latest result.
“It is frustrating when you go 1-0 up and then concede and finish with a draw. It was a game we needed three points from, and it is very frustrating to go away with just the one,” said Duke.
Added Ryan: “It’s disappointing. I don’t think we did enough tonight. We didn’t create enough clear-cut chances. There is obviously a controversial talking point, but there were other moments throughout the game where we needed to be better. But it is still very much in our hands.”