Syria, UAE, Palestine go through to the knockout phase

Syria, UAE, Palestine go through to the knockout phase

QLNews
By QLNews

Omar Khrbin came off the bench to strike the winning goal as Syria defeated India 1-0 on Tuesday to advance to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Khrbin struck in the 75th minute at the Al Bayt Stadium as Syria finished third in Group B, with the West Asian side making it to the knockout stage for the first time in seven attempts.

Australia finished top on seven points after a 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan, who ended the group stage with five points, one ahead of Syria.

India head coach Igor Stimac made three changes by starting midfielders Lallianzuala Chhangte and Deepak Tangri and reinforcing the defensive line with the experienced Subhasish Bose, while Hector Cuper’s Syrian line-up remained unchanged.

The Blue Tigers started on a promising note, with Mahesh Naorem receiving a cross from Manvir Singh inside the Syrian box but his attempt from a tight angle on the right was pushed away by goalkeeper Ahmad Madanieh.

Syria were quick to respond, a powerful header from forward Pablo Sabbag forcing Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu into making a diving save with the deflected ball.

As the match progressed, the Qasioun Eagles looked more and more dangerous, keeping the Indian defence busy with repeated charges. With a first goal of the tournament having eluded both sides in the opening 45 minutes, the pressure to find the back of the net was immense in the second half with Syria summoning the talismanic Khrbin off the bench. 

The 2017 AFC Player of the Year made his presence felt almost immediately. In the 75th minute, he unleashed a right-footed shot that eluded the outstretched hand of the Indian keeper, giving the Syrian his 22nd goal for the national team. 

Azizbek Turgenbov’s late header cancelled out Martin Boyle’s first-half penalty to ensure Uzbekistan earned a 1-1 draw with Australia at the Al Janoub Stadium.

Boyle converted a minute into injury time after a handball by Odiljon Xamrobekov to put the Socceroos within sight of a third straight win, but substitute Turgenbov levelled in the 78th minute to seal second place in the standings for Srecko Katanec’s side.

The result means Australia will next take on one of the third placed finishers in the Round of 16 while Uzbekistan are due to meet the runners-up in Group F when the knockout rounds begin on Sunday.

Palestine booked a first-ever appearance in the AFC Asian Cup knockout stage after defeating Hong Kong 3-0 at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium.

Oday Dabbagh starred with a brace with Zeid Qunbar also finding the net as Palestine advanced despite finishing third in Group C, the victory also their first ever in AFC Asian Cup history.

Iran emerged top with a 2-1 win over UAE, who finished ahead of Palestine on goal difference with both on four points. 

Palestine were quick off the blocks, putting Hong Kong under pressure with  Dabbagh almost finding a way through in the fourth minute.

Palestine looked the more dangerous and took the lead in emphatic fashion in the 12th minute. Al Battat charged down the right flank before supplying a precise cross for Dabbagh to power home his header into the back of the net.

Hong Kong’s search for the equaliser left them vulnerable in defence. Palestine maintained their high-pressing game after the interval and were rewarded with their second goal in the 48th after Hong Kong failed to deal with Al Battat’s cross from the right once again with Qunbar finishing with a fine header.

Hong Kong refused to give up as they pushed forward, only to be caught off guard by Palestine when Hamada’s long goal kick found Seyam at the other end, whose effort from just above the box rebounded off the crossbar and landed kindly for Dabbagh to tap in.

Meanwhile, a Mehdi Taremi double earned Iran a 2-1 win over UAE in Group C at the Education City Stadium.

Taremi opened his Qatar 2023 account in the 25th minute, moving behind the Emirati defence to take advantage of an intelligent Sardar Azmoun pass before coolly slotting home.

Team Melli thought they had doubled their lead in the 33rd when Ehsan Hajsafi’s whipped delivery from the left was headed home by Ali Gholizadeh, but following a VAR check, the goal was ruled out for an offside.

It was the UAE who had the best chance of the early proceedings of the second period when Yahya Al Ghassani was brought down inside the box by Hossein Kanaani. Al Ghassani stepped up to take the resulting penalty, but his attempt was saved by an excellent diving save from Alireza Beiranvand.

Iran’s star duo Azmoun and Taremi combined again to make it 2-0 in the 65th when the AS Roma forward cut inside and fed his teammate with a well-weighted pass and Taremi emphatically converted into the roof of the net to double Team Melli’s advantage.

Another VAR call had a goal from substitute Mohammad Mohebi overturned after the Iranian forward was deemed to have fouled Khalid Al Hashemi inside the box in the build-up before he struck the rebound home after Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s initial shot hit the crossbar.

Al Ghassani made up for his missed penalty kick with a decisive goal in added time of the second half as he broke free down the left, cutting inside on his right foot and finding the far corner with his finish to half the deficit.

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