Al Ram: Jordan and United Arab Emirates became the first teams to secure places in the 2019 WAFF U-18 Championship, after both registered wins on the second day of group stage action in Palestine on Saturday.
A goal-laden final 15 minutes helped Jordan overcome Qatar 5-1 in the early match, before UAE joined Belal Al Laham’s side in the knockout stage with a 4-2 victory over Iraq.
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QATAR 1-5 JORDAN
Having watched on from the sidelines on the opening day, Qatar made a start to forget at Faisal Al Husseini Stadium, finishing with nine men as Jordan cruised to an emphatic 5-1 win.
Waseem Al Riyalat scored twice for the Jordanians, who capitalised on Qatar’s two late dismissals to complete their group stage campaign with a perfect six points following Thursday’s 2-0 win over Palestine.
Qatar must now beat the tournament hosts on Monday’s Group A decider if they are to join Jordan in the knockout stage.
There was little early indication of the struggle to come for Qatar, particularly when Mekki Tombari eased home a penalty kick to give them a 28th-minute lead, but their advantage lasted only a minute, with Mohammad Al Qeisi finishing off a lovely move to deliver an instant reply with this second goal of the tournament.
Al Riyalat powered the ball in from the penalty spot to punish a foul from Qatar’s Abdulla Al Sulaiti and put Jordan in front seven minutes before half-time, and they would go further ahead in a dramatic end to the match.
Al Laham’s charges extended their lead with a terrific Mohannad Semreen goal in the 78th minute, and Qatar’s chances of avoiding defeat became even more slim when goalkeeper Yousef Balideh was sent off for a foul outside his penalty area two minutes later.
But worse was still to come for Qatar. Al Riyalat welcomed replacement shot-stopper Khaled Binsabaa into the action by firing in a 25-yard free-kick to make it 4-1 in the 82nd minute, before substitute Sief Addeen El Bashabsheh rounded out the scoring eight minutes later.
Tombari became the second Qatari player to be dismissed when he was shown a second yellow card in stoppage time, as Jordan ensured they will enjoy their four-day break with a highly impressive victory.
IRAQ 2-4 UAE
United Arab Emirates became the second team to book their place in the knockout stage, producing a three-goal second-half to go clear on top of Group B after seeing off Iraq in a 4-2 win.
Midfielder Ahmed Al Hammadi scored twice from the penalty spot for the Emiratis, who found their shooting boots after going scoreless in Thursday’s opening draw with Bahrain.
Iraq’s defeat means they must take all three points against Bahrain in Monday’s final Group B fixture if they are to reach the semi-finals of the inaugural regional tournament.
After their lacklustre opening encounter, UAE’s first goal of the tournament was a particularly memorable one, with Mohammad Mubarak’s powerful, inswinging corner flying directly into the net in the 22nd minute.
Iraq’s equaliser also came from a dead ball situation, albeit a far more conventional one, when Abdulrazzaq Kadah squeezed home a penalty kick in the 37th minute to ensure the sides would be on level terms at the interval.
Al Hammadi’s pivotal contribution came after the break, as he kept a cool head to convert two penalties in the space of four minutes and take UAE to within sight of victory.
The first came in the 59th minute after Zaid Abd Zaid hauled Hazza Al Jneibi down in the box, and Al Jneibi was involved again for the second spot-kick when he drew a foul from Karaar Saad Mohsin, with Al Hammadi easing the ball into the back of the net on both occasions.
Hussein Tareq gave Iraq a lifeline when he capitalised on a spill from UAE goalkeeper Rakaan Al Menhali to bring them back to within one in the 69th minute, but Harib Al Maazmi had the final say for the Emiratis, clinically finishing off a sweeping transition move after being supplied by the influential Al Jneibi to seal a 4-2 win.
With their group stage campaign complete, the UAE can afford to sit back and analyse their semi-final opponents when the competition continues on Monday, while Iraq have it all to play for against Bahrain as they fight to remain in contention.
Monday’s fixtures (all times local): Bahrain v Iraq (16:00), Palestine v Qatar (19:00).
Photos: Palestine Football Association
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