Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi returned to the pitch on Monday after a four-month injury lay-off, starting for Tianjin TEDA in the Chinese Super League.
The 30-year-old played all 90 minutes, but his presence was not enough as Tianjin suffered a 2-0 loss at home to Hebei CFFC.
The Super Eagles captain joined the club from English Premier League champions Chelsea in January, but was forced to undergo hip surgery in late April. In his absence, his new club careened all the way down to the penultimate spot on the standings, with one win in 19 games.
Mikel's return will be a boost not only to his club, but also to Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr, who saw his team lose to South Africa in the absence of his captain. The German will hope to have the midfielder back for the decisive double-header World Cup qualifier against Cameroon in September.