Doha, Jan 14 (Agencies): Japan’s 2-1 victory against Syria on Thursday was indeed a narrow escape from defeat resulting in 1-1 draw with Jordan, which had earlier beaten Saudi Arabia The 10-man Japan team had Makoto Hasebe and Keisuke Honda scoring for the team who had goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima sent off in the 75th minute. Firas Al Khatib scored for the Syrians, who had defender Nadim Sabag sent off for a second bookable offence deep into second-half injury time.
In the earlier match Jordan stunned three-time champions Saudi Arabia 1-0 through Baha' Abdelrahman's goal.
Ahead of their final games, the two winners are both on four points, while Syria, who have three, can also still advance to the next round.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, are the first team to have been eliminated from the competition after losing both their opening matches.
On a bitterly cold night in the Qatar SC stadium, Japan pushed forward from the opening whistle and came close to opening the score early on when Atsuto Uchida found an unmarked Ryoichi Maeda in the area, but the Jubilo Iwata striker's header went just wide.
It was only a matter of time though when they would take the lead and the opening goal came in the 35th minute after a break down the right.
Bundesliga sensation Shinji Kagawa managed to penetrate the area, only to find goalkeeper Mosab Balhous dive bravely at his feet and block the shot.
However, the rebound came to Daisuke Matsui, whose clever layoff found Hasebe and the VfL Wolfsburg midfielder pushed the ball past Balhous, who was sprawled on the ground.
Japan, who needed a last-gasp equalizer against Jordan in their first game, then controlled the game.
Against the run of play, but to the delight of the majority of the 10,000 fans in the 12,500-seater stadium, Syria scored a controversial equalizer in the 75th minute after referee Torky Mohsen adjudged Kawashima to have fouled Sanharib Malki.
After a lengthy delay as Japanese players remonstrated with the referee and his assistant, Malki sent off Kawashima and Al Khatib scored from the spot.
Japan restored their lead just six minutes later as Mohsen gave them a penalty after Belal Abduldaim and Ali Dyab pushed substitute Shinji Okazaki off the ball.
Honda made no mistake from the spot, giving his side their seventh victory against Syria in their seventh match.
In the earlier game in Al Rayyan, Saudi Arabia's decision to fire coach Jose Peseira after their first game paid no dividends as Abdelrahman's speculative shot midway through the first half gave Jordan the victory.
Both sides had a cautious approach to the first half as they seemed more determined not to lose the game than they were to win.
Surprisingly Saudi coach Nasser Al Johar said that he felt his side played well.
"Under the circumstances we played very well. We had a couple of chances to score and their goal was luck. If we had played poorly, we would have conceded many more goals."
Jordanian coach Adnan Hame, however dismissed suggestions that his side had been lucky. "I respect Al Johar and the Saudi team but our win is a big accomplishment for the Jordan team.
"We played as we could but we did not win with luck. We played very well and our players produced a very good performance."
The defeat sees Al Johar fail in his attempts to repeat his 2000 heroics.
In that year he took over the coaching from Czech Milan Macala after the side lost their Asian Cup opener 4-1 to Japan and saw the side go all the way to the final, where they lost to Japan.
Doha, Jan 14 (Agencies): Japan’s 2-1 victory against Syria on Thursday was indeed a narrow escape from defeat resulting in 1-1 draw with Jordan, which had earlier beaten Saudi Arabia
The 10-man Japan team had Makoto Hasebe and Keisuke Honda scoring for the team who had goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima sent off in the 75th minute.
Firas Al Khatib scored for the Syrians, who had defender Nadim Sabag sent off for a second bookable offence deep into second-half injury time.