MD1 - Group C: Bahrain 1-1 Iraq
Manama: Iraq scored a late equaliser to hold Bahrain to a 1-1 draw in their Asian Qualifiers Group C tie for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Thursday.
Bahrain had come into the tie boosted by having defeated Iraq in the final of the 2019 WAFF Championship in July, which promised a sizzling match between the two West Asian rivals.
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Settling quickly, Bahrain only took nine minutes to take the lead with an unmarked Komail Hasan Al Aswad receiving the ball from some 20 yards out and he let loose a left-footed strike that Iraqi goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed failed to hold on to and the ball rolled into the back of the net.
Iraq responded positively and Justin Hikmat Azeez had two chances to equalise but first attempt was wayward in the 15th minute and six minutes later, he failed to keep his header down.
Iraq continued to dominate but were reminded by Ali Jaafar Madan how quickly Bahrain could capitalise on mistakes when the forward caught the defenders napping with a surging run but his shot was parried away by the vigilant Hameed.
Iraq started the second half aggressively as they went in search of the equaliser but Bahrain defended stoutly.
Iraq's persistence, however, was finally rewarded as the match entered its closing minutes with Mohanad Ali, who was a standout player in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, silencing the home crowd when the 19-year-old found the back of the net five minutes from the end.
Bahrain play Cambodia on Tuesday, while Iraq have a month to prepare for Hong Kong.
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