Impressive Qatar crush UAE, storm into final
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Qatar on Tuesday braved a hostile atmosphere to crush hosts UAE 4-0 on way to setting up a dream Asian Cup final against Japan.
Friday’s title clash of the continent’s biggest national team event will be the first one for Qatar, hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
At a packed Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Boualem Khoukhi (22), Almoez Ali (37), Hassan Al Haydos (81) and Hamid Ismail (90 + 4) emerged as goal heroes for Qatar players were targeted with bottle and sandal-throwing from the home fans.
Qatar started on a bright note enjoying more ball possession but could not trouble the scorers before the 20-minute mark. However, things changed thereafter as Felix Sanchez’s side opened through Khoukhi’s angular shot from the edge of the box.
After a somewhat cautious opening, Qatar finally issued their statement of intent when Salem Al Hajri’s shot from distance forced UAE goalkeeper Khalid Eisa into a fine stop on 14 minutes.
With Abdelkarim Hassan and Assim Madibo returning from suspension, Qatar continued to look the more likely of the two sides, and they duly took the just eight minutes later.
The shot went through the defense of UAE goalkeeper Khalid Eisa and ended in the back of the net as Qatar went 1-0 up. There was a pin-drop silence at the stadium and some fans threw water bottles and sandals at the players.
Qatar added a second one in the 37th minute, which turned out to be a gem of goal from Almoez. Akram Afif found Almoez who advanced into the area before firing home via a post to equal Ali Daei’s record for the most goals by a player at Asia’s premier event.
In the second half, with Ahmed Khalil and Ismaeil Matar both introduced to the fray after the break, the UAE were quick to threaten as Al Sheeb superbly tipped over a Mabkhout piledriver and then defender Khoukhi blocked a Matar effort from close-range.
Al Sheeb was on hand once again to deny Khalil shortly after as the UAE’s search for a way back into the game became more frantic as the minutes ticked by.
Qatar added a third goal in the 80th minute with captain Al Haydos getting his name on the scorer’s list, beating the advancing keeper with a gentle chip over Eisa’s head.
Qatar completed the humiliation with a fourth goal in injury time, with substitute Ismaeil – who came in for Afif – in the 90th minute beat the UAE keeper with his right footed try to give Qatar a convincing win.
Despite being forced to defend deep in their own half for long periods, Qatar remained dangerous on the break and they duly added a third in the 81st minute when captain Hassan Al Haydos rounded off a delightful move by manoeuvring past Bandar Mohammed and clipping the ball over Eisa.
After the UAE’s Ismail Ahmed was shown a straight red card late on for dangerous play, substitute Ismaeil rounded off the scoring to emphatically confirm Qatar’s place in the final.
Qatar will now take on Japan on Friday. On Monday, Japan beat Iran 3-0 in the other semi-final match.
Unbeaten Qatar have 16 goals in six matches without conceding any.