Asian Cup: Jordan 2 Syria 1

Jordan booked a place in the Asian Cup quarter-finals with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Syria in Doha on Monday.

With Syria needing a victory to progress to the knockout stage, they made the perfect start when Mohamed Al Zeno put them ahead but an own goal to Ali Diab levelled proceedings at half-time before Odai Al Saifi’s second-half strike sent Jordan into the last eight.

Jordan boss Adnan Hamad was happy with the side that beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 last time out, making no changes while Syria manager Valeriu Tia called upon Sanharib Malki to replace the suspended Nadim Sabagh.

The match began at a frenetic pace with Syria on top in the early stages and regularly testing Jordan goalkeeper Amer Sabah, and their early dominance paid off when Al Zeno gave them the lead after 15 minutes.

Malki made a promising run down the right side of the pitch and after getting close to the by-line, shot at Sabah, who could only parry the strike.

The rebound fell invitingly for Al Zeno who was on hand to tap the ball in and give Syria the early edge.

Syria had opportunities to go further in front but Al Zeno and Jehad Al Hussain missed free headers from inside the penalty box while Feras Esmaeel fired wide.

Almost completely against the run of play, Jordan found an equaliser.

Syria goalkeeper Mosab Balhous decided to come for a cross from the left but could not get through a crowd of bodies, with the ball finding the head of Diab who could only manage to put the ball in the back of the net.

The goal highlighted the lack of communication between the Syrian defence and goalkeeper and it was something Jordan would make the most of later in the match.

Referee Abdulrahman Mohammed dished out several yellow cards in the early stages of the second half including one to Balhous, who charged out of his box to clatter Hassan Abdel Fattah.

But Syria continued to attack and could have taken the lead if it were not for a smart save by Sabah who tipped Belal Abduldaim’s free-kick and from the resultant corner Sabah had to react well to save a left-foot rocket from Samer Awad.

Syria piled on the pressure in search of a goal, but Malki and Esmaeel wasted headers before once again a long ball split the Syrian defence open.

Al Saifi slipped in behind the defensive line and despite the best efforts of Diab, who tried to shield the ball from the Jordan man, he tapped home the all-important second goal.

It was a clever finish from Al Saifi who hooked the ball over the oncoming keeper but the defending was comical and the goal allowed Jordan, who only needed a point to progress, to sit back and defend their lead.

Jordan’s victory sets up an exciting quarter-final clash with Group A winners Uzbekistan.