Syria’s draw in Iran and Uzbekistan’s draw with South Korea meant that two late goals to secure a 2-1 win in Doha were ultimately futile in China’s desperate bid to snatch a play-off place for next year’s tournament.
China rallied after falling behind early in the second half and even overcame the sending-off of their captain Zheng Zhi.
Akrim Afif put the home side ahead in the 46th minute, scoring from close range.
But the visitors equalised in the 74th minute when Xiao Zhi powered home.
Any chance of a win seemed remote however just six minutes later when Zheng was red-carded after he fouled Afif, who was clean through on China’s goal.
But just two minutes later substitute Wu Lei scored to give China the lead and set up a dramatic finale.
Results elsewhere though meant that China had failed to qualify for Russia, while it was also another desperate night for Qatar.
Defeat meant they finished bottom of the Group A table.
The match was also played in a near-empty Khalifa stadium, the first international to be played in a revamped venue that will be used during the 2022 World Cup finals.
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