China's Wu Lei converted a second-half penalty to earn a 1-1 draw with Australia on Tuesday as Graham Arnold's Socceroos went a third game in a row without a win in the final round of Asia's preliminaries for next year's World Cup.
The forward sent Mathew Ryan the wrong way 19 minutes from time after VAR intervened to award the Chinese side the penalty when the ball struck James Jeggo on the arm.
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Mitchell Duke had put the Australians in front seven minutes before the interval, but the draw means Arnold's team have not won since defeating Oman in October.
Australia remain in second place in Group B with 11 points from six matches but, with Japan facing Oman later on Tuesday, the Socceroos could relinquish that position by the end of the round. Japan have nine points and Oman seven.
China, who are looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since making their debut at the tournament in 2002, move onto five points but their hopes are dwindling despite the draw.
Duke gave Australia the lead when he rose above Zhu Chenjie to meet Martin Boyle's cross from the right.
Wu got the chance to pull China level when Jeggo's raised arm made contact with a lofted ball into the area and, after checking the pitchside monitor, referee Adham Makhadmeh pointed to the spot.
The top two teams from the group will qualify automatically for Qatar 2022 while the third-placed team will advance to a playoff round.