AL AIN, United Arab Emirates, June 22 (Reuters) - Ismail
Matar scored with 10 minutes remaining to send the United Arab
Emirates into the final round of World Cup qualifiers after a
tense 3-1 defeat by Syria on Sunday.
Matar's penalty proved decisive and ended the hopes of the
unheralded Syrians, whose were considered one of the weakest
teams in qualifying after advancing from the preliminaries for
the first time.
Syria's win put them level with their opponents on points
and goals scored but the heart-breaking penalty added one more
to their goals conceded column and pushed UAE into the last 10.
Needing a 3-0 win to progress, Syria went all out and were
two goals ahead after Jehad Alhoussain netted either side of
Matar hit back from the spot before Firas Al Khatib found
Syria's third a minute before the end.
UAE, the reigning Gulf Cup champions, last reached the World
Cup in 1990 -- their only appearance in the finals -- but failed
to advance from the group stage after losing all their games.
Iran finished top of Group Five after beating Kuwait 2-0 in
Ten teams will contest the final round, five of which have
the chance to qualify for South Africa 2010.