Group A: Iraq down Qatar, UAE cruise past Yemen
Doha: A Mohammed Qasim brace steered Iraq to a 2-1 win against Qatar in the opening match of the 2019 Gulf Cup at Khalifa International Stadium on Tuesday.
Ali Mabkhout scored a hat-trick as United Arab Emirates defeated Yemen 3-0 to move to the top of the Group A standings as the 24th edition of the tournament got off to a spectacular start.
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Qatar 1-2 Iraq
Qatar started brightly and had the first glimpse at goal after only four minutes but AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 top scorer Almoez Ali shot wide.
Mohannad Ali came close for Iraq in the 12th minute but Qatar continued to set the pace before their fans.
That changed in the 18th minute when Mohammed Qasim curled a cross into the box which baffled the Qatar defenders and goalkeeper Saad Alsheeb, with the ball sailing into the net.
Qasim continued to cause problems for Qatar and he doubled Iraq’s advantage on 27 minutes with a powerful left-foot shot into the top left corner.
Qatar upped their tempo in the second half and narrowed the deficit four minutes in when Iraq’s Mostafa Mohamed failed to clear a pass from Abdelkarim Hassan, which second half substitute Abdelaziz Hatim slotted home from close range.
AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 champions Qatar were denied the equaliser in the 69th minute when Iraq midfielder Amjad Attwan headed Hatim’s free-kick towards the goalmouth but the crossbar came to the visiting team's rescue as they held on for the win.
UAE 3-0 Yemen
Ali Mabkhout scored a hat-trick as the UAE defeated Yemen 3-0 at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium.
Mabkhout, who has five goals to his name in the Asian Qualifiers, opened the scoring on 21 minutes by heading home a cross from Bandar Al Ahbabi.
Yemen surged forward in search of the equaliser, leaving gaps behind and a counter attack in the 38th minute saw Mabkhout making it 2-0.
The 29-year-old forward completed his hat-trick nine minutes after the break when he collected a pass at the edge of the area, beat two defenders and scored with a right-footed shot past Yemen goalkeeper Salem Awad.
Group B action on Wednesday will see defending champions Oman opening their campaign against Bahrain while Saudi Arabia will play Kuwait.
Bahrain head coach Helio Sousa said Oman will be a tough challenge.
“Oman are the title holders and have been very consistent over the last few years,” said Sousa. “However, we will try our best to continue what we have been doing in the last months and play our own game.”
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, will face Kuwait without the services of players from 2019 AFC Champions League winners Al Hilal SFC.
“We will try our best in the match although the preparations were not as we wanted because the Al Hilal players are not with us,” said head coach Herve Renard. “We have to manage the first match without them and we shall see what will happen.”
Group A - Qatar 1 Iraq 2; UAE 3-0 Yemen.
Wednesday – Group B: Oman vs Bahrain; Saudi Arabia vs Kuwait.
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