Qatar edge Syria to keep qualification to the 2-18 FIFA World Cup dream alive.
Qatar salvaged some hope of reaching the 2018 World Cup finals with a narrow and desperately needed victory against war-torn Syria in a crucial Asian qualifier on Tuesday.
The 1-0 win, secured by a first-half Hasan Al-Haydos penalty, brought to an end a wretched run of three consecutive group defeats for the 2022 hosts, who have never made it to the World Cup finals.
The three points lifted the ambitious Gulf nation off the bottom of Group A, above China and four points behind South Korea in the third-placed play-off position after four games.
They are six points behind second-placed Uzbekistan, who occupy one of the automatic qualification positions.
Qatar coach Jorge Fossati said his side could have won by more than one goal but he was defiant that they could still reach Russia.
"We had chances (of qualifying) before, now we have a very good chance," he said.
"We had many, many chances to finish with a score bigger than 1-0, but in the end the most important thing was that we got our first victory."
It was a hard-fought and at times tetchy affair and fitting that the only goal was scored by Al-Haydos, in the 37th minute, who was a constant threat to Syria's defence.
Indeed, it was his jinking run which forced the penalty, the playmaker turning one defender before being tripped. He slotted home the penalty himself.
The home side should have doubled their lead seven minutes later when Sebastian Soria was clean through but his weak shot was cleared by a covering defender.
Soria had another chance in the 50th minute when again he was put clean through, this time by Qatar's La Liga-playing teenage star Akram Afif, but again the Uruguayan-born star fluffed his chance.
Al-Haydos had two chances in three minutes. He forced a fine save from goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma in the 69th minute before having a shot blocked.
Qatar, who have a habit of letting in late goals in qualifiers, were made to sweat for their victory.
Fossati's team anxiously saw out the final 10 minutes when Syria, roared on by a vocal number of fans in the 9,940 crowd, went close to scoring twice.
In the 80th minute Mahmoud Almawas fired narrowly wide before Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb made a spectacular save from a long-range free kick.
Qatar travel to China for their next qualifier in November.
Syria's coach Ayman Al Hakeem said his team deserved a point and could have had a penalty of their own.
"In all, I believe that a draw would have been more fair."
Syria play group leaders Iran in their next game.