It was the opening match in a year-long, round robin tournament that will send just the two top teams to Russia for World Cup 2018.
A penalty awarded in the 84th minute was converted by Nawaf Al Abid to sink Thailand.
The next Thailand match is Tuesday (Sept 6) at Rajamangala National Stadium at 7pm against Japan.
After Tuesday’s Japan game, Thailand travel back to the Middle East for games at the UAE on Oct 6 and Iraq on Oct 11.
The last match of 2016 is against Australia at Rajamangala on Nov 15, It will complete the first half of the “group of death” games. Return legs begin next March.
In other Group B games, all played yesterday night (Sept 1), hosts Australia defeated Iraq 2-0, while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) beat Japan 2-1 in Tokyo.
South Korea defeated China 3-2 in Group A play. It was a shock for China, which hopes to return to the World Cup finals. Other Group A results: Uzbekistan 1, Syria 0, and Iran 2, Qatar 0.
Results Note: The top two teams of each group qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The third-placed teams meet each other with the winners facing a Concacaf side in a play-off.
Australia 2 (Luongo 57, Juric 64) Iraq 0
Japan 1 (Honda 11) UAE 2 (Khalil 20, 54-pen)
Saudi Arabia 1 (al-Abid 84, pen) Thailand 0
South Korea 3 (Zheng Zhi 20-og, Lee Chung-Yong 62, Koo Ja-Cheol 66) China 2 (Yu Hai 73, Hao Junmin 76)
Uzbekistan 1 (Aleksandr Geynrikh 73) Syria 0
Iran 2 (Ghoochannejhad 90+4, Jahanbakhsh 90+11) Qatar 0
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