Qatar and Syria both moved a step closer to the quarter-finals of the AFC U23 Championship in Doha on Friday with wins over Iran and China respectively.
At the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Qatar beat Iran 2-1, scoring a goal in each half to secure all three points for Felix Sanchez’s side.
As the first half progress, Qatar gradually started dominating the midfield battle, and they were rewarded in the 34th minute when Akram Afif (pictured) produced a sweet pass for Ahmed Alaa, who sent his effort through Mohammadreza Akhbari’s legs to score.
Arsalan Motahhari could have equalised for Iran with a header in the dying moments of the half, but it went over the bar and instead it was Qatar who doubled their lead 10 minutes after the break when Abdelkarim Hassan lost his marker and side-footed the ball into the net from a corner.
Ali Karimi scored on the stroke of full-time for Iran, but Qatar held on for the valuable win which sees them move top of Group A.
Over at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, Syria came from behind to beat 10-man China 3-1.
Early opportunities for Zhang Yuning and Liao Lisheng were followed by a China opener in the 21st minute, as Liao fired a 30-foot free kick over the wall and into the back of the net.
Syria responded strongly, however, with Mahmoud Al Mawas and Omar Kharbin both coming close to levelling the scores.
The equaliser did arrive on the stroke of half-time when China goalkeeper Du Jia was sent off for taking down Mahmood Al Baher, allowing Kharbin to convert from the penalty spot.
Kharbin gave his side the lead nine minutes after the break, firing home from the edge of the area, and with seven minutes left on the clock, Al Baher completed the turnaround by slotting the ball in from close range to make it 3-1 to Syria.
Iran 1-2 Qatar
China 1-3 Syria