Palestine and Syria qualify for knockout stages of Asian Cup

The content originally appeared on: NBC SVG

Palestine and Syria qualified for the knockout stages of the Asian Cup for the first time with victories in their last group matches yesterday.

Palestine wrapped up their Group C campaign in style with a 3-0 win over Hong Kong after Oday Dabbagh scored a double to secure their spot in the last-16 as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Iran won the group after beating the United Arab Emirates 2-1 to finish with nine points.

Palestine were on course to finish second when Iran led the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 2-0. But an injury-time goal from UAE’s Yahya Al-Ghassani pushed Palestine back to third on goal difference after both teams finished with four points.

Palestine opened the scoring when Dabbagh  powered home a header under pressure in the 12th minute while Zeid Qunbar doubled the lead with a header across goal.

Dabbagh  then got his second when he was in the right place at the right time to tap in a rebound when Tamer Seyam saw his curling strike come back off the crossbar.

Hong Kong had the opportunity to score a consolation goal when they were awarded a penalty after a VAR check but, Everton Camargo’s kick came off the bar.

Mehdi Taremi scored twice for Iran in their victory, with both goals assisted by Sardar Azmoun either side of halftime.

Al-Ghassani had seen a penalty saved earlier by Iran keeper, Alireza Beiranvand  but he found the bottom corner in the 93rd minute for the crucial goal that moved them back to second to qualify despite the defeat.

Earlier, Uzbekistan joined Australia in the last 16 after the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in their final group match, while Syria beat India in the other match in Group B to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.

It marks the first time Syria have advanced to the knockouts since their Asian Cup debut in 1980.

India exit the competition without scoring a goal in three defeats.