China crashed out of World Cup contention on Saturday, after losing 2-1 to Iraq, who kept their hopes alive with goals from Emad Mohammed and Nashat Akram.
It was a sorry end for China who knew they needed to beat Iraq and then overcome Australia a week later in Sydney to have any hope of advancing to the final phase of qualifying for South Africa in 2010.
Instead, they will finish bottom of Group 1 with coach Vladimir Petrovic's job hanging by a thread.
Asian champions Iraq joined Australia and Qatar at the top of the table on seven points, setting up an intriguing final round of games on June 22 when Iraq play Qatar and Australia are at home to China.
The Harry Kewell-led Socceroos play Qatar in Doha later today to determine who has the advantage.
Akram's winning goal came in a 65th minute counter-attack after he latched onto a pass from Salih Sadir on the right wing, beat his man and sent the ball into the left corner of the net.
China took the lead when they were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area after keeper Abbas illegally picked up a back pass in the 32nd minute.
Captain Zheng Zhi tapped the free kick to midfielder Zhou Haibing who slammed the ball through a crowd of defenders into the back of the net.