Iraq was crowned Asian Cup champions for the first time after beating Saudi Arabia 1-0, in Sunday's final match of the tournament. A victory, that pushed Saudi Arabia into second place, was welcomed in Baghdad by barrages of gunfire.
The Saudis had been bidding to become the first four-time winners of the tournament and although the hot favorites they lost to Iraq, which was riding a wave of global sentiment for a rare slice of sporting glory.
Iraq forward Younes Mahmoud rammed home the 71st-minute header off midfielder Hawar Mohammed's corner for the only goal in the fiercely-contested final.
The huge roar inside the stadium was matched by celebrating supporters back in their war-ravaged homeland where Iraqis rejoiced the unifying triumph with gunfire, despite a government ceasefire order.
"This is not just about football... this is more important than that… this has brought great happiness to a whole country" said Iraq's Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira, who confirmed that he would resign whatever the result.
Iraq, which had the best defense in the competition, conceding just two goals in six matches, proved capable of handling the twin Saudi threat of forwards Malik Moad and Yasser Al Qahtani. Left-back Bassim Abbas had a particularly solid game with his trademark acrobatic overhead clearances.
"We played very well and, to be honest, I am not happy with 1-0. We should have won 3-0" Vieira said.
The Iraqis might have had won more comfortably if they had capitalized on their many scoring chances, but were denied by a combination of poor finishing and extraordinary saves from Saudi goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who was at the Gelora Bung National Stadium for the final, said Iraq's achievement had inspired millions and was proof of sport's unique power to unite people in the most desperate circumstances.
Saudi was the best attacking team in the tournament, scoring 12 goals on their way to the final. They found plenty of off-the-ball incidents with defender Ali Hussein Rehema going down in the penalty area with an expected free kick denied by the referee.
"Iraq deserved to win" Saudi's Brazilian coach Helio Cesar dos Anjos said. "They were very motivated and we knew the whole world was supporting this team."
"They made it very difficult for us to play our football. I feel sorry for the Saudi people but proud of my players and optimistic for the future."
Al Qahtani had his only chance of the half when he made some space nearing half-time but blazed his shot well over the bar.
Iraq midfielder Nashat Akram gave Mahmoud a chance in the box but his close-range shot was blocked by Saudi's Waleed Jahdali 15 minutes after the interval.
Iraq goalkeeper Noor Sabri made a flying save to prevent a screaming volley from Saudi midfielder Taiseer Al Jassam going in and the action switched to the other end where Al Mosailem made a double save to stop Mahmoud and then Hawar Mohammed.