China is back on track at the Women's World Cup after a 1-0 win against South Africa at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Thursday.
Banyana Banyana's first finals appearance is unlikely to go further than the group stage after Li Ying's first-half goal all but ended their chances of progression.
Forward Ying put the 1999 runners-up ahead in the 40th minute with an opportunist effort, getting ahead of her marker to meet a Zhang Rui cross and poke the ball into the bottom right corner.
China lost 1-0 to two-time champions Germany in their opening match, while South Africa were beaten 3-1 by Spain and now have two losses.
China are level with La Roja for second place in Group B on three points, and now focus on their next match and the push to join group leader Germany in the last 16.
South Africa is the lowest-ranked team in France, but China worked hard for their win while keeping a close watch on forward Thembi Kgatlana. She made two strong runs in the first half, one down each flank, but her final pass let her down each time.
Kgatlana caused problems after the break with her speed and well-timed runs, although she was isolated and not adequately supported.
South Africa goalkeeper Kaylin Swart made two smart late saves, the second a fine finger-tip effort from substitute Yang Li's curling effort in the 90th.