Iraq beats Syria 2-1 in World Cup qualifier


BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq beat Syria 2-1 in a home friendly Tuesday, marking the return of international football to the country for the first time in 18 months.

Playing in front of 50,000 fans, Iraq's most famous player Younis Mahmoud opened the scoring in the seventh minute. But Syria, which has been forced to play its matches away from home due to the civil war, drew level in the 36th thanks to Omar Halaby.

Iraq's Ali Rihaima then scored the winner in the 50th.

FIFA last week ruled that Iraq was safe enough to host international friendlies after not staging a match since September 2011. It is unclear whether it will be allowed to host World Cup qualifiers, having played them in Qatar the past 18 months.