Group F: Oman 3-1 Turkmenistan
Abu Dhabi: Oman advanced to the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time after defeating Turkmenistan 3-1 in a Group F match at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Oman's reward for sealing a spot in the UAE 2019 knockout stage for the first time in four appearances at the Finals is a meeting with either Group C winners Korea Republic or Islamic Republic of Iran, who topped Group D.
With the top two spots in the group not within reach, Japan finishing as group winners with a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan, both sides were playing for third place which a win by two goals would seal.
Turkmenistan had produced a gritty performance in their opener before going 3-2 down to Japan but found Uzbekistan too strong as they fell 4-0. Oman, meanwhile, suffered one goal defeats to both - 2-1 to Uzbekistan and 1-0 to Japan.
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Pim Verbeek had stated before the match that a 2-0 win would be enough for his team to advance and Oman started on the front foot as they went in search of the opening goal.
Turkmenistan found Oman's pace on both flanks hard to handle and one such move in the sixth minute should have seen the West Asians taking the lead but Muhsen Al Ghassani's left-footed shot from the centre of the box was saved by goalkeeper Mamed Orazmuhamedov.
Oman continued to press and had two chances to take the lead in the 14th minute, with Muhsen Al Ghassani's effort parried by Orazmuhamedov before Mohammed Al Hosni, with the goalmouth at his mercy, sent his shot high over the bar.
Oman's persistence, however, finally paid off in the 20th minute with captain Ahmed Al Mahaijri scoring a screamer with a free-kick from 25 yards out.
Stung by the goal, Turkmenistan began to push forward more and came close in the 31st minute but Murat Yakshiyev's header was tipped over by goalkeeper Faiyz Al Rusheidi.
Oman, however, continued to dictate the tempo and Khalid Al Hajri just missed the target with a left-footed shot in the 38th.
It was a miss that would prove to be costly as Turkmenistan, who had been growing as the game progressed, equalised in the 41st minute with Altymyrat Annadurdyyev evading several Oman players before unleashing his shot from the left into the top left corner.
Oman started the second half as they had done the first and totally dominated proceedings, coming close in the 55th and 56th minutes - through a header by Mohammed Al Musallami and a shot by Al Hajri respectively.
Al Ghassani went for the spectacular in the 68th minute with an overhead kick which Orazmuhamedov saved and the goalkeeper stood tall again just seconds later to deny Ahmed Al Mahaijri on the left, with the ball seemingly headed for the top of the net.
Orazmuhamedov, however, was finally beaten in the 84th minute with Al Ghassani sweeping the ball in after the goalkeeper had parried an initial effort.
Three minutes into added time, Mohammed Al-Musallami jumped high to head home and Oman's celebrations began.
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