China kept their hopes of qualification from Group B alive with a 1-0 win over South Africa in the Women's World Cup.

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.

The game got off to a slow start, with play interrupted twice due to minor head injuries for Wang Yan of China and South Africa's Kholosa Biyana.

Thembi Kgatlana broke clear on the half-hour but poked her effort harmlessly wide, while at the other end Gu Yasha blazed over despite a slip from defender Janine Van Wyk allowing her plenty of room for a shot.

China, who were beaten by Germany in their opening game, took the lead five minutes before half-time when a superb ball over the top from Zhang Rui came off the knee of a stretching Ying and past the goalkeeper.

They came agonisingly close to a second goal shortly afterwards when a Zhang header bounced down off the underside of the crossbar and onto the line.

Both sides struggled to create chances in the second half, but China finished the game strongly.

A late header from Han Peng brought a decent save from Kaylin Swart, while Yang Li had plenty of time to pick her spot at the death but fired straight at the goalkeeper.