In what would prove to be a winner-takes-all encounter - with France beating Turkey in the match that followed - a first-half goal from Jeferson Goncalves was enough to give the defending champions a 1-0 win over the Chinese to finish top of Group B.
The South Americans dominated throughout at the Riverbank Arena, in a game that was a repeat of the final at the Beijing 2008 Games, but had to endure a tense final 10 minutes after they failed to add to Goncalves’ goal.
Brazil scored what would prove to be the winner on 22 minutes when Goncalves found space and sent a spectacular right-foot shot into the corner to spark jubilation on the Brazilian bench and a forward somersault celebration from team-mate Gabriel da Silva that brought cheers from the crowd.
There were a series of chances for China in the first half, including a first shot on target with two minutes left that was well saved by goalkeeper Fabio Luiz Ribeiro de Vasconcelos.
After his side’s win, Brazil coach Ramon Pereira de Souza said: ‘I have no words. My happiness is shaped on all the faces of the players and coaches in the team. It was a difficult game, facing China is not like facing any other team. China has spectacular players.’
I have no words. My happiness is shaped on all the faces of the players and coaches in the team.Ramon Pereira de Souza
China’s loss proved costly as France beat Turkey 1-0 in the next game to clinch second spot in Group B.
David Labarre’s fourth-minute penalty was the only goal of the game as the French rode their luck against a Turkish side who went into the game without a point, but who deserved to claim something from the match.
France, who will now face Spain in the semi-finals, have yet to concede a goal in the tournament and coach Toussaint Akpweh said: ‘I'm satisfied to have reached the semi-finals, and I'm extremely proud, as any coach would be. I've seen a lot of good stuff from the players, and no team has yet managed to score against us.’
In Group A, the Spanish knew a draw against Argentina would be enough to progress into the semi-finals and managed to withstand sustained pressure from their opponents in a 0-0 draw.
Spain were indebted to goalkeeper Alvaro Gonzalez Alcaraz, who made some fine saves and kept out a penalty from Luis Sacayan, while Argentina captain Silvio Velo also struck a spot-kick wide.
Spain’s Alfredo Cuadrado Freire said: ‘If we reach the final it will be the biggest thing in the world. I will be so happy, excited, overwhelmed and overjoyed, if I got to the final.’
Argentina had to nervously wait on the outcome of the Great Britain versus Iran match to see if they were going to join Spain in the semi-finals.
In the end, Iran registered their first win of the competition to end the Host Nation’s hopes of going through. It means Argentina now face Brazil in an all-South American semi-final.