TIANJIN, China (AP)—Iraq eliminated China from World Cup qualifying with a 2-1 victory Saturday that brought celebratory gunfire in Baghdad.
Zhou Haibing gave China a 1-0 lead in the first half, but defending Asian champion Iraq rallied with a first-half goal by Emad Ridha and the winner by Nashat Akram 20 minutes into the second half.
China was eliminated with only three points in five games in Group One. Iraq has seven points in five games and plays its final qualifier June 22 against Qatar. China plays at Australia the same day. The top two teams in the group advance to the final stage of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Iraq captain Younis Mahmoud went off with an injury after only 11 minutes. In the 34th minute, Zheng Zhi took an indirect free kick and passed to Zhou, who scored from 20 yards.
Iraq equalized in the final minutes of the first half on a 10-yard header from Ridha, setting the stage for Akram’s winner from 20 yards in the 66th.
The ouster could spell trouble for China manager Vladimir Petrovic. Petrovic is handling the national team with head coach Radomir Dujkovic, who is also coaching China’s Olympic team.
China has qualified only once for the World Cup, in 2002, losing all three group games and failing to score a goal—an embarrassment for the world’s most populous country.