Palestine celebrated their first point in 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 their three matches on debut in 2015, unheralded Palestine were more competitive on this occasion as they 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, who have designs on a place in the knockout rounds after impressing in World Cup qualifying, were unable to make their numerical advantage count.
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, were expected to prove too strong and twice went close in the opening 30 minutes.
— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 6, 2019
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 were well on top when Osama Omari went down clutching his knee before half-time and had to be taken off on a stretcher.
Their hopes of extracting three points were 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 they had been until that point and deservedly secured a draw that sets them up nicely for Friday’s date with Australia, who earlier lost to Syria’s next opponents Jordan.
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