Qatar rue missed penalty as USA pip The Maroons 1-0 in CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal
Qatar narrowly missed the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup thanks to a late game-winning goal from Gyasi Zardes that delivered a 1-0 victory to the tournament's hosts USA in a semifinal matchup at the Austin FC's Q2 Stadium in Texas in the early hours of today.
The Maroons were left to rue a 62nd-minute penalty miss by captain Hassan Al-Haydos that could probably have changed the dynamics of the game, which is the first meeting between the two countries at an international tournament, as they were left red-faced by the 86th-minute goal from the second-half substitute Zardes.
With the victory, the United States men's national team advanced to their third consecutive CONCACAF Gold Cup final while the coach Felix Sanchez team, who are guests at the tournament, missed the opportunity of being the first non-North American team to enter the final of the competition in its 58-year-old history.
The AFC Asian Cup champions were a threat early in the match played in front of a sold-out audience of 20,500, with their first dangerous opportunity coming from an Al-Haydos interception in the seventh minute. Al Haydos provided a filtering pass from the right to the left edge of the box, but Almoez Ali could not convert.
Qatar continued to put pressure on the Yanks, with the US needing two big early saves from New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner to avoid conceding the opener.
Turner came up with an important save in the 19th minute by pushing away a deflected attempt from Qatar's attack. He then produced another pivotal save two minutes later, denying Abdulaziz Hatem on this occasion. The Qatari forward attempted to capitalize on a second chance opportunity after a pass from Akram Afif was deflected.
The US had an opportunity in the 43rd minute via a free-kick, as an attempt from Gianluca Busio found Daryl Dike, but Qatar goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham captured the ball for safekeeping.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts continued to apply pressure, ultimately outshooting the Yanks 13-3 in the first half, but the teams went to halftime in a scoreless deadlock.
In the 52nd minute, Matthew Hoppe provided a pass that cut through the defence and into the box, but Dike was denied the finishing touch.
The US evaded danger in the 62nd minute as Qatar missed an opportunity to score the opening goal when a penalty attempt by Al-Haydos went over the top post.
The Qatar penalty miss sparked the US attack, and they came close to an opener in the 78th minute when Hoppe found Sam Vines running into the box, but the US defender would be blocked from scoring as Qatar recovered and immediately cleared.
The match remained a stalemate until the 86th minute when Zardes struck for the dramatic late winner. The Columbus Crew forward was the beneficiary of a great run into the box and feed from Nicholas Gioacchini, slotting home the decisive tally that sent the Yanks through to the confederation championship's final, where they will be up against Mexico, who defeated Canada 2-1 in the other semifinals encounter, on Sunday.
While Qatar might have lost the game but they would be leaving the USA with their heads held high as they gave a good account of themselves as they showed the world a glimpse of what to expect next year when the FIFA World Cup is coming to the Middle East for the first time. Mabrook Qatar!
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