Qatar and Jordan through to AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals in contrasting fashion

Qatar and Jordan through to AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals in contrasting fashion

QLNews
By QLNews

Defending champions Qatar booked their place in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals with a 2-1 comeback win over Palestine at the Al Bayt Stadium on Monday.

With the win, the host nation are set to return to Al Bayt to face the winner between Uzbekistan and Thailand on Saturday, while Palestine’s journey ends after a historic first knockout stage appearance and six goals scored.

Meanwhile, Jordan showed amazing resilience to come from behind to defeat Iraq 3-2 in their Round of 16 tie at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Down 2-1 after having taken the lead, stoppage time goals from Yazan Al Arab and Nizar Al Rashdan pushed Jordan over the finishing line in a hugely exciting tie that had seen Iraq reduced to 10 players after having taken the lead, with Aymen Hussein sent off after netting their second goal. 

Jordan will play Tajikistan in the quarterfinals on Friday. 

After a cagey start to the game, the first challenge for Qatar’s Meshal Barsham came in the 19th minute when Amid Mahajna tried his luck from 25 yards out, but the goalkeeper made a fine diving save.

Barsham was called into action again minutes later when Mahmoud Abu Warda tested the keeper, but he once again stood tall.

But it was third time lucky for the Palestinians when Oday Dabbagh took matters into his own hands, embarking on a mazy solo run and making his way past two Qatari defenders before aiming for and finding the bottom corner of the goal.

Dabbagh’s strike was the first goal Qatar conceded in the tournament, and only the second in the AFC Asian Cup since 2015.

Seconds before the first half ended, Akram Afif and Hassan Al Haydos combined from the corner-kick just like they did for the winner against China. This time, Afif’s delivery was along the floor, and Al Haydos made the run towards the penalty spot before hitting it first-time. His shot was deflected off Musab Al Battat and landed in the back of the Palestine net for the equaliser.

The hosts picked up where they had left off after the restart, and their attacking momentum forced defender Mohammed Saleh into a mistake as he caught Almoez Ali inside the box with a sliding tackle. Afif stepped up and emphatically converted home his side’s second.

The playmaker’s goal and assist on the night took his tally to 17 goal contributions in the AFC Asian Cup, including 12 assists, three times as many as any other player in the tournament since 2011.

Goalkeeper Rami Hamada made a confident save to deny Qatar a third goal through Abdulaziz Hatem’s strike from the edge of the box and at the other end, Islam Batran looked to find the net from distance but skied his effort for the game to end with a 2-1 win for the hosts.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s head coach Jesus Casas made nine changes to the starting 11 that defeated Vietnam 3-2 — with 10 of the players in the team featured in the 2-1 win over Japan returning to the fold.

The 2007 AFC Asian Cup winners wasted little time in asserting their authority with Ahmed Al Hajjaj just failing to reach Ali Jasim’s corner in the second minute.

Jordan, however, began to find their footing and threatened in the 11th with Yazan Al Naimat’s ambitious long-range effort sailing over the bar, while Iraq’s Youssef Amyn wasted another chance off a set-piece situation four minutes later.

The action was thick and fast with Iraq keeper Jalal Hassan forced to come outside his area in the 18th to foil Yazan Al Naimat’s attempt with Ali Olwan hitting wide on the follow up.

Jordan put Iraq under pressure in the 38th when Mousa Tamari weaved his way into the box past three defenders before being foiled by Hassan, but their persistence finally paid off in the closing stages of the half.

Al Naimat pounced on a poor back pass by Ahmed Al Hajjaj before waltzing through the Iraq defence to finish with a sublime effort past a helpless Hassan.

A lapse in concentration gave Iraq the opportunity to draw level in the 68th when Suad Natiq rose highest to nod home Jassim’s corner. 

A stunned Jordan then fell behind in the 76th when Hussein pounced on a poor clearance from inside the six-yard-box before drilling his effort into the bottom left corner of the net.

Iraq’s celebrations, however, were short lived as Hussein received his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card in the aftermath of the goal, 

With a one man advantage, Jordan refused to give up and drew level in the sixth minute of added time with Al Arab scoring off a rebound after Hassan saved Tamari’s initial effort.

They were, however, not done yet as Al Rashdan scored the winner a minute later with a beautiful effort from just outside the area, leaving the thousands of Iraqi fans heartbroken.

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