AFC Asian Cup 2019: Palestine holds Syria to goalless draw

Syria failed to make its superiority count against plucky Palestine as it settled for a share of the spoils in a tense Asian Cup clash.

Syria's defender Ahmad Al Saleh (L) vies for the ball with Palestine's forward Mahmoud Wadi (R).   -  AFP

Palestine celebrated its first point in AFC Asian Cup history after holding Syria to a 0-0 draw in Sharjah on Sunday despite playing the final 22 minutes with 10 men.

Beaten in each of its three matches on debut in 2015, unheralded Palestine was more competitive on this occasion as it succeeded in frustrating stronger opposition despite Mohammed Saleh's harsh dismissal. The defender received a second yellow card in the 68th minute following a clash of heads with Omar Khrbin but Syria was unable to make its numerical advantage count.

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An inability to capitalise on a pair of first-half chances allowed Palestine to grow into the contest and Noureddine Ould Ali's men capably navigated the closing stages in a positive start to their Group B campaign.

Syria, though absent from the Asian Cup in 2015, was expected to prove too strong and twice went close in the opening 30 minutes.

The lively Khrbin was at the centre of both opportunities, first seeing Abdallah Jaber make a miraculous goal-line block early in proceedings, before Rami Hamada - whose handling error initiated the first chance - palmed clear a threatening header.

Bernd Stange's side was well on top when Osama Omari went down clutching his knee before half-time and had to be taken off on a stretcher.

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Syria's hopes of extracting three points was given a boost with just over 20 minutes remaining as referee Ravshan Irmatov deemed Saleh's routine aerial challenge with Khrbin worthy of a second booking. Palestine, though, remained as obdurate as it had been until that point and deservedly secured a draw that sets it up nicely for Friday's date with Australia, which earlier lost to Syria's next opponents Jordan.

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