Doha: Qatar started the match brightly and ended it unconvincingly as they settled for a 1-1 draw against Syria in their final Group C qualifier of the 2018 AFC Under-23 Championship at Al Sadd Stadium in Doha.
Qatar qualified as the group winners with seven points while Syria, with five, also booked their berth in China as one of the six best second-placed finishers.
Qatar coach Felix Sanchez, who opted for plenty of experiments with the choice and the positions of his players in the first two matches, opted for a more steady line up this time.
Assim Madibo came back to take his position just in front of the back four while Tarek Salman reverted to his usual position in the centre of defence after playing in the midfield against India.
Qatar got their first chance when Akram Afif ran at the defenders and caused chaos in Syrian backline and although Syria managed to stop him, the ball bounced invitingly for Abdullah Abdulsalam, who however scuffed his shot.
The hosts then suffered a painful blow when Moeen Ali suffered a shoulder injury and had to be substituted.
Qatar got another chance in the 28th when Almoez Ali, who was well found by Tameem Mohammed Al Muhaza ball from the right, directed his cushion header towards Afif, but the KAS Eupen forward's effort was wayward.
Afif and Almoez were proving to be a constant danger for Syrian backline, and moments later Mohammad Almarmour had to foul the latter who was about to pull the trigger from just outside the box.
Sultan Hussain Al Brake curled in the resultant free kick in spectacular fashion to give Qatar the lead in the 37th minute.
Though Syria attacked with intent and created a couple of chances, Qatar went for the breather with a clear advantage.
But Syria stunned them in the 61st minute with a superb equaliser.
And it was the familiar combination of Moumen Naji and Mohamad Rafat Muhtadi that did the trick for them. Naji's cross from the left had pace, height and swerve, and when Muhtadi rose high and headed it goalwards into the ground, Tarek Salman and Bassam Al Rawi were no more than mere spectators.