AL AIN, United Arab Emirates (AP) _ Miura's magic did not work for Japan in the Arabian desert Friday.

Japan, the co-host for the World Cup 2000 and ranked 20th by FIFA, was just lucky to beat Syria 2-1 in the Group C match of the 12-nation Asia Cup. One of the Japanese goals was an own-goal by Syria.

``I did many many mistakes,'' said Kazuyoshi Miura, Japan's best known player.

``I hope I don't repeat them in coming games,'' Miura told reporters after the match held in Al Ain, one of the sheikhdoms that form the United Arab Emirates.

In the other match of the group, Asian tournament newcomer Uzbekistan beat China 2-0.

Title-holder Japan snatched victory in the dying moments after dominating the match while wasting several scoring chances.

Syria, which first took part in the Asia Cup in 1980, took the lead in the eighth minute when Nihad al-Boushhi's lob near the goalmouth was headed by Nader Jokhdar. Japanese goalkeeper Kenichi Shimokawa was baffled.

Japan got an easy chances to score on the 17th minute with only the Syrian goalkeeper Salem Bitar to beat. But Miura's shot went straight to the keeper, who deflected it. The ball reached another Japanese forward, Takuya Takagi, but his shot from inside the penalty area also went straight to Bitar.

The Japanese made as many as six potential goal scoring forays into the Syrian defense but trailed 1-0 at halftime.

After the breather, the Syrians started man-to-man marking and went on the defensive.

With five minutes remaining, Japan got the equalizer, thanks to a Syrian mistake. Syrian defender Hassan Abbas tried to clear a ball and netted in his own goal.

Japan took the lead with three minutes remaining on a goal by Takuya Takagi.

``It was a very difficult situation,'' Japanese coach Shu Kamo said. ``After scoring early, the Syrians went into defensive and made scoring difficult. We were just lucky to get the equalizer.''

Syrian coach Yori Korin blamed his defenders for the defeat.

``Japan is a strong team and after we took the lead, we went into defense,'' Korin said. ``That suicide goal was terrible.''

The day's other game saw a seesaw match with both teams getting half a dozen chances, but a poor finish and bad luck deprived them of more goals.

After a barren 40 minutes, Uzbekistan nearly scored when Oleg Shatskikh's free kick from just outside the penalty area went wide. At halftime the score was 0-0.

China got two chances in quick succession on the 65th minute when Li Bing's shot from 10 yards was saved by Uzbek goalkeeper Pavel Bugalo. Seconds later, China's Li Ming missed a similar chance, failing to beat Pavel from 10 yards.

The game first goal came in the 78th minute when striker Shkvyrin Igor, the scourge of defenses in the last Asian Games in 1994, netted from a pass from Oleg Shatskikh.

With 30 seconds to go Oleg Shatskikh scored the second goal.