Kazakhstan extended their unbeaten streak to four matches with a hard-fought 1-0 win against China in a friendly game that saw captain Samat Smakov make record-breaking appearance and Ulan Konysbayev pick up a serious injury.
China started stronger and then had a slight advantage in possession but Kazakhstan offered some smart organisation and looked more dangerous throughout proceedings, creating several good chances from open play and set pieces.
The hosts came closest in the second half, which for the most part was an intense end-to-end affair, when they fell behind and pushed for an equaliser, with Yu Hai hitting the post with his powerful free kick in the 75th minute.
Kazakhstan winger Ulan Konysbayev left the pitch on a stretcher minutes before the interval with his leg broken after a tough challenge. The incident affected the game badly as it turned ill-tempered.
After the restart, Kazakhstan performed in an emotional and aggressive manner, committing numerous fouls, some of them ugly. While Kazakhstan sat deep to defend their goal, yellow cards came thick and fast, so there was no surprise that Talgat Baisufinov's outfit found themselves reduced to ten men.
It was Yeldos Akhmetov who was dismissed for a second bookable offense in the 82nd minute but China failed to capitalise on their numerical superiority as the visiting defence and their veteran goalkeeper David Loriya stood firm.
Initially, there were no plans of holding this match but the Football Federation of Kazakhstan intervened a couple of weeks ago to add it to the national team's fixture list.
The decision provoked a controversy that eventually led to Kairat Almaty's boycott. The club refused to let their internationals play the match that hasn't been scheduled in the FIFA official calendar. So, the likes of Bauyrzhan Islamkhan and Vladimir Plotnikov missed the game.
It was the third time Kazakhstan met China, with previous games having been played back in 1997 and 2007, two friendlies on Chinese turf each. The hosts had won 3-0 and 2-1 respectively but couldn't replicate that feat this time round because of Kazakhstan's solid and resilient display.
In Dalian, Kazakhstan captain Samat Smakov made his 74th appearance for the country to set a new record for the side, bettering his fellow Ruslan Baltiyev who has been the most-capped Kazakhstan player since 2009.
Following a string of positive results and good performances under Talgat Baysufinov's guidance, surely he has to be given the job now !— Kazakh Football (@kazakh75) 7 июня 2016 г.
"I am pleased with the result. We expected them to press high up the pitch. It took time to find our feet before we managed to benefit from their central defenders' mistakes. I'd like to thank the Chinese representatives for their organisational efforts," said Baisufinov at the post-match press conference.
The victory marked fourth outing without a defeat for Kazakhstan, their longest unbeaten run of away games since joining UEFA. The next match Kazakhstan are to play is a friendly against Kyrgyzstan, scheduled on August 30 in Bishkek.
China PR v Kazakhstan 0-1 (0-0)
07/06/2016, Dalian Sports Center (Dalian). Att: 40,000. Ref: Beath (AUS).
CHN: Wang Dalei, Zhang Linfan, Wu Lei (Yu Hanchao 69), Ren Hang, Li Xuepeng (Yu Hai 54), Wu Xi (Huang Bowen 46), Rong Hao (Jiang Ning 84), Zhao Mingjian, Yang Xu (Zhang Yuning 46), Feng Xiaoting, Hao Junmin. HC: Gao Hongbo.
KAZ: Loriya, Akhmetov, Malyi, Logvinenko, Shomko, Baizhanov (Mukhutdinov 67), Smakov (Tagybergen 88), Muzhikov (Dosmagambetov 90+2), Konysbayev (Suyumbayev 46), Nuserbayev (Murtazayev 76), Khizhnichenko (Nurgaliyev 60). HC: Talgat Baisufinov.
Goals: 0-1 Nurgaliyev (68).
YC: Ren Hang (45), Baizhanov (53), Logvinenko (61), Rong Hao (72), Malyi (73), Akhmetov (74), Shomko (85), Suyumbayev (90+4).
RC: Akhmetov (82 – 2nd YC).