Qatar needed three late goals from substitutes Almoez Ali, Akram Afif and Hassan Haydoos to put away Iraq and maintain their perfect record at the Arab Cup in a pulsating contest at Al Bayt Stadium.
Felix Sanchez rang the changes for already qualified Qatar against Iraq. Despite nine new faces from the side that edged out Oman last time out. Al Annabi side bossed the early exchanges but didn’t have the firepower to trouble Iraq, striker Mohamed Muntari was guilty of fluffing his line missing a good chance early into the contest.
Iraq found their stride and duly had the better chances as Bashar Rasan created two instant chances to open the scoring only to be denied by Qatar keeper Yusef Hassan. Whilst five minutes from the break, Yaser Kasim thought he opened the scoring for the Lions of Mesopotamia only to his strike crunch off the post. The first half ended 0-0.
Qatar started the second-half brightly as wingback Musab Kheder broke forward and timed his run perfectly only to nod Mohammed Muntari’s cross inches wide. Three minutes later Muntari showed a quick turn of pace to evade a defender before his outside of the boot shot was saved by keeper Fahad Talib.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Felix Sanchez turned to Almoez Ali and Hassan Haydoos who came on for Ali Assad and Mohammed Muntari with the striker looking to have worryingly injured his knee. Haydoos duly smashed the woodwork with a dipping strike, the closest that Qatar came to opening the scoring.
Iraq raised their game in the final stages as they pushed for a win. Substitute Mohammed Qasim smashed the woodwork for a second time in the game with a fine strike that had Yusef Hassan beaten. It was Qatar who had the last laugh.
Three goals in the final twelve minutes turned the tide in the favour for the hosts against an Iraq side that was in truth was out of breath. Substitutes Almoez Ali, Akram Afif and Hassan Haydoos found the back of the net to maintain Al Annabi’s perfect record at the tournament and give the side plenty of confidence ahead of a quarter-final against local rivals UAE.
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