Iraq strike dents China's World Cup hopes
Veteran striker Younus Mahmood scored the only goal of the game as 10-man Iraq dented China's World Cup qualification hopes with a 1-0 defeat on Tuesday.
Mahmood struck from close range on the stroke of half-time to give the Zico-coached Iraqis the lead after China had dominated the opening period but were unable to find the back of the net.
Iraqi defender Basem Abbas' sending-off with 25 minutes left for a second bookable offence gave the Chinese a numerical advantage, but Jose Antonio Camachos team was unable to make it count.
The defeat leaves China struggling in third place in Group A of the third phase of Asias qualifying tournament for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Only the top two teams progress to the final phase of qualifying and Jordan lead the group with nine points and three games left to play. Iraq are second on six points, three ahead of China, with Singapore in last place on zero.
"Im happy that we won this game and we played well under abnormal conditions," said Zico. "It was a tough game and it was the second time we faced this problem of playing with 10 men.
"China played well and I have to give many thanks to my goalkeeper because he did a great job."
The Iraqis started the game positively and saw Mustafa Kareem and Nashat Akram go close before the Chinese took control.
But for all their dominance, China were unable to press home their advantage as Gao Lin and Chen Tao were both denied by Iraqi goalkeeper Mohammed Kassid.
With seconds remaining in the half, the Iraqis made China pay for their profligacy when Mahmood latched onto Du Weis mistake to lay the ball off to Kareem, who in turn rolled the ball across goal for Mahmood to score.
China continued to push in the second half and the expulsion of Abbas for a second yellow card -- both were awarded for dissent -- boosted the home sides hopes.
But stubborn defending by the Iraqis and poor finishing by the home team cost China at least a share of the points.
"We did everything to avoid losing this game but Iraq did well," said Camacho. "They attacked us from their defensive line but they also had luck.
"Its going to be difficult to qualify from here but its not impossible. We will try harder in the next game to see what we can do."
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