Ahmedabad: Syria turned on the style to defeat DPR Korea 5-2 in their opening 2019 Intercontinental Cup match at the EKA Arena on Monday.
Shadi Hamwi and Mohammad Almarmour both struck twice and captain Firak Al-Khatib once as Syria overcame going behind to Jong Il-gwan's third minute goal.
Syria will face Tajikistan, who opened their campaign with a 4-2 win over India, next on Wednesday while DPR Korea will face the hosts on Saturday.
Syria began the tie on the backfoot and DPR Korea skipper Jong took advantage of poor goalkeeping by Ibrahim Alma to give the East Asians an early lead.
Alma was kept on his toes for most of the first half as DPR Korea dominated but Syria drew level four minutes before the break as Hamwi scored his first.
Syria could have taken an unlikely lead into the break but Hamwi was denied a second by the crossbar.
Buoyed by their positive ending to the first half, the Syrians seized the initiative when the match resumed and were ahead 10 minutes into the restart as Almarmour found space on the right flank and released a shot from the edge of the box.
DPR Korea's problems were compounded when Al-Hamwi added to his first international goal with another on the hour mark to strengthen Syria’s grip on the match.
A nervous DPR Korea defence always looked on the verge of conceding a goal, which they did as Almarmour scored his second of the match in the 66th minute.
Substitute Ri Jin narrowed the deficit in the 79th minute but Syrian captain Al-Khatib sealed an emphatic victory with his strike in added time.
Both teams are using the tournament to prepare for the Asian Qualifiers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, which kick off in September.
Photos: All India Football Federation