Syria earn dramatic draw, Qatar stun Reds

South Korea are still waiting to secure their passage to the 2018 World Cup, while China’s dreams of going to Russia were dented by Syria.

Syria kept their World Cup hopes alive while damaging China’s chances with a last-gasp equaliser clinching a 2-2 draw in their Group A qualifier at Hang Jebat Stadium on Tuesday.

The hosts got off to a flying start when Mahmoud Al Mawas opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 12th minute after Fahd Youssef went down under a challenge from Chinese goalkeeper Zeng Cheng.

Team Dragon nearly hit back before half-time as Zhang Linpeng directed his header against the crossbar, but Ayman Hakeem’s side survived to take their slender lead into the break.

The visitors eventually restored parity with a spot-kick of their own in the 68th minute, converted by Gao Lin after Zhang Zhang had been hauled down by Nasouh Al Nakdali.

Wu Xi then fired them in front seven minutes later as he volleyed home Xiao Zhi’s downward header from Jiang Zhipeng’s cross.

However, the Qasioun Eagles equalised deep into stoppage time when Ahmad Al Salih curled his free-kick over the wall into the top-right corner of the goal from 20 yards out.

Syria remain fourth in the group on nine points, three behind the play-off spot, while China are a further three adrift at the foot of the table.

Later in the evening, Qatar shocked South Korea at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, although they let slip a two-goal lead before emerging 3-2 victors in their Group A qualifier.

The Reds’ struggles away from home continued as they found themselves two goals down early in the second half, only to stage a fightback until the hosts secured victory 16 minutes from time.

Uli Stielike’s side made a slow start in Doha, with home keeper Saad Al Sheeb not called into action until the 21st minute when he saved Lee Jae-sung’s curling effort.

But their winless streak – stretching back over a year – looked set to go on as the Maroons broke the deadlock four minutes later, with Hasan Al Haydos sending his 20-yard free-kick past Kwoun Sun-tae inside the right post.

The visitors looked to respond as Hwang Hee-chan failed to hit the target before Lee Keun-ho produced a superb save out of Al Sheeb in the closing stages of the first half.

However, Jorge Fossati’s men doubled their lead just six minutes into the second half when Akram Afif smashed the ball into the back of the net after being set up by Al Haydos.

South Korea gave themselves a glimmer of hope as Ki Sung-yeung halved the deficit on 62 minutes.

And they were level eight minutes later when Hwang Hee-chan connected with Hwang Il-su’s knockdown to volley home the equaliser.

Their urgency to find a winner proved costly, though, as the hosts made them pay for over-committing on 74 minutes when Al Haydos steered his shot into the bottom-right corner of the goal to clinch a surprise win.

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