China and Qatar faced off in their final Group A game at the Asian Cup on Monday

Doha (AFP) - China’s Asian Cup hopes were hanging by a thread Monday after a 1-0 loss to already qualified hosts and holders Qatar meant they finished third in Group A on two points.

Tajikistan beat Lebanon 2-1 in Group A’s other game to leapfrog China into second place and reach the last 16.

Hassan Al-Haydos’s 66th-minute wonder goal gave Qatar a perfect three wins from three in Doha.

The result forces China – who failed to score in any of their three games – to wait and see if they qualify for the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed sides from the group stage.

Qatar coach Tintin Marquez made nine changes to his starting lineup after booking their place in the knockout rounds with two opening wins.

Forward Akram Afif, the competition’s joint-top scorer on three goals, dropped to the bench along with striker Almoez Ali and goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham.

China began the tournament with two dour 0-0 draws against Tajikistan and Lebanon.

Coach Aleksandar Jankovic dropped out-of-sorts forward Wu Lei to face Qatar and brought in Wei Shihao, who went close with a dangerous shot in a bright start to the match.

Qatar soon began to take control, and China’s former England youth defender Tyias Browning had to make a crucial block to stop Yusuf Abdurisag from opening the scoring on the half-hour mark.

China fluffed the best chance of the first half five minutes later when Wei shot against goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb’s legs from point-blank range.

Striker Zhang Yuning also had a good opportunity in first-half injury time but could not get on the end of Wei’s low ball into the box.

Qatar had the luxury of being able to bring on third-choice goalkeeper Salah Zakaria at half-time.

But he lasted less than 20 minutes before he was replaced by Barsham – Qatar’s third goalkeeper of the game – after clashing heads with a Chinese player.

Afif and Haydos both came off the bench in the 64th minute and the opening goal followed two minutes later.

A corner picked out Haydos lurking on the edge of the box and he lashed a volley into the net to spark joyous celebrations on the Qatar bench.

Jiang Shenglong thought he had equalised in the 87th minute only for the linesman to rule the ball had gone out of play in the build-up.