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Syria’s Al-Mawas rocks China’s World Cup hopes



War-torn Syria blew a major hole in China’s bid to reach a second World Cup when they pulled off a stunning 1-0 qualifying upset on Thursday.

Mahmoud Al-Mawas’s breakaway goal in the 54th minute settled a gritty game in Xian which left China stranded on one point from their first three games in Group A.

Seventy-eighth ranked China have ambitions of hosting and even winning a World Cup, but Al-Mawas dented their hopes of reaching the tournament for a second time at Russia 2018.

The bustling, bearded forward latched onto a long ball and prodded his first touch past on-rushing goalkeeper Gu Chao before controlling the bouncing ball into the net.

Syria should have made the game safe in the 73rd minute but Omar Kharbin managed to miss an open goal from Al-Mawas’s inviting cutback.

Syria now climb above China in Group A to draw level on four points with mighty Iran, who play Uzbekistan later.Punch