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MD4 - Group E: Qatar 2-1 Oman

Al Wakrah: Qatar held off a determined Oman to stay unbeaten in the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, registering a 2-1 win at Al Janoub Stadium on Tuesday.

Almoez Ali sealed the win with a brilliant 72nd-minute strike, restoring Qatari’s lead after a memorable Al-Mandhar Al Alawi goal cancelled out Akram Afif’s early opener in a see-sawing and entertaining encounter.

Qatar, playing for a place in the 2023 Asian Cup with FIFA World Cup hosting rights secured, extended their Group E tally to 10 points after four matches, while Oman suffered their first defeat to remain four points behind with a game in hand.

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The two previously unbeaten teams met in an outright battle for group leadership, and, in a first half where Afif was at the heart of all things positive for the Asian champions, it took just three minutes for the Al Sadd star to put them in front.

So often the provider of Qatar’s scoring chances, this time Afif was the finisher, arriving to slam home a low pass from promising 20-year-old forward Yusuf Abdurisag from 15 yards to give Felix Sanchez’s side the early advantage.

Oman, getting an early look at one of the stadiums they hope to return to at the FIFA World Cup 2022, conjured an equally clear-cut scoring chance almost immediately, but Abdulaziz Al Maqbali’s shot at goal was denied by a terrific save from Qatari goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb, who kept the hosts ahead in the seventh minute.

Some last ditch defending from Amran Said Al Hidi deflected a seemingly goal bound Ali effort over the crossbar, before the influential Afif was involved in another key moment, winning a penalty kick after being fouled by goalkeeper Faiyz Al Rushedi, only for Hassan Al Haydos to miss the target from the spot in the 26th minute.

With Afif the chief creator, Ali’s bid for a fourth Asian Qualifiers goal continued, but he was off target on three further occasions in the latter stages of the first half, which ended with Qatar’s 1-0 lead still in place.

The second half began with Al Maqbali finding himself in behind the Qatari defence for a second time in the match, but this time the Omani forward was denied by Tarek Salman, who produced a superbly timed tackle to defuse a dangerous situation for the hosts.

Qatar escaped on that occasion, but Oman’s equaliser arrived in stunning style in the 65th minute through Al-Mandhar Al Alawi, who utilised a combination of dribbling skill and pure persistence to beat a number of defenders before drilling the ball under Al Sheeb and into the net from 15 yards.

Al Haydos’ woes in front of goal continued when he failed to get a shot off from an excellent position, but Ali’s, and Qatar’s, fortunes turned dramatically when he sensationally picked out the bottom corner of Al Rusheidi’s net from the edge of the box in the 72nd minute, with the ever-present Afif playing his part with a return pass to the star striker.

With their status as group leaders now firmly entrenched, Qatar will sit out Matchday Five, while Oman will look to reduce the deficit to a single point when they meet Bangladesh on November 14.

Photos: Qatar Football Association

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