MD3 - Group C: Iraq 2-0 Hong Kong
Basra: Iraq secured their first victory of the Asian Qualifiers after defeating Hong Kong 2-0 in Group C at the Basra Sport City on Thursday.
Playing their first Qualifier on home soil since 2011, the victory revived their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 hopes after having settle for a 1-1 draw with Bahrain on Matchday One.
It was Hong Kong’s second defeat, having lost 2-0 to Islamic Republic of Iran after opening their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Cambodia.
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It was a one-sided affair from the start of the contest with Hong Kong having to defend as Iraq threatened in the opening minutes of the game.
Iraq were the better side as they kept attacking with Hong Kong goalkeeper Yapp Hung Fai constantly in action.
Mohanad Ali almost put the home side in front in the eighth minute from the penalty spot but Yapp was in top form to deny the West Asians the lead.
Ali was in the thick of action again in the 15th minute and came within a whisker of finding the target after being played deep in the danger area, but the Al Duhail forward saw his close-range effort blocked.
Yapp was on top of his game once again in the 21st minute when he kept out Amjad Attwan’s long-range effort as Iraq turned up the tempo in an attempt to break the deadlock.
Iraq finally found a way through in the 38th minute after Ali scored with a glancing header from inside the area to give his side a 1-0 lead going into the break.
Iraq maintained their edge in the second half as Ali, Alaa Ali Mhawi and Humam Tariq caused all sorts of problems for Hong Kong and came close to stretching their lead in the 54th minute.
Ali, who had been in fine form throughout the match, was within goal scoring distance but his surge inside the box was cut short by Helio Souza.
Iraq’s best chance came two minutes later when captain Ahmad Ibrahim Khalaf blew his chance to double the advantage when he fired his close-range effort above the bar.
Hong Kong, who had been kept at bay, got their first look at goal in the 58th minute but Alex Tayo Akande fired his header straight at Iraq goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed Farhan.
Ali Adnan then made it 2-0 in the 79th minute when he converted from the penalty spot after a goal-bound Ali was brought down.
Iraq will travel to Phnom Penh to face Cambodia next Tuesday, while Hong Kong will entertain Bahrain on November 14.