Abdelkarim Hassan smashed a hat-trick as hosts Qatar bounced back strongly at the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup, thrashing Yemen 6-0 in their second Group A match at the Khalifa International Stadium last night.
Qatar’s first victory in the tournament saw Iraq – who defeated the UAE 2-0 for their second successive win earlier yesterday – becoming the first side to reach the semi-finals of the eight-nation tournament.
With rank outsiders Yemen getting out of contention following their second loss, the Felix Sanchez-coached side’s last game against the UAE on Monday has become a winner-takes-all clash to semi-finals.
A draw against UAE will also ensure the hosts a place in the semi-finals.
Needing a victory to make a comeback in the competition after shock loss to Iraq in the opening match, the Asian champions came with an improved show as they outclassed Yemen in both the sessions, much to the delight of over 26,000 fans present at the iconic FIFA World Cup 2022 venue.
Asian Player of the Year, Hassan, after an ordinary show against Iraq, regained his form, firing home goals in 29, 36 and 72 minutes. AFC Asian Cup 2019 top scorer Almoez Ali (58), midfielder Abdullah Alahrak (85), feared striker Akram Afif (89) were the other scorers.
Qatar started the match in a similar fashion like they started against Iraq but the ‘Al Annabis’ yesterday were much better in execution. The Asian champions started aggressively and with clock passing 20 minutes, they intensified their attacks creating many chances.
Afif took the first shot on target after a fine cross from Al Sadd star Salem Al Hajri in a 23rd minute move, with Yemeni goalkeeper Salem Abdullah – who endured a challenging day – punching off the ball.
Five minutes later, captain Hasan Al Haydos’ fiery kick from just outside the circle was rebounded by back of a defender with goalkeeper nowhere to be seen.
Sanchez, soon replaced Abdelaziz Hatim – Qatar’s only goal scorer against Iraq – with Al Duhail star Karim Boudiaf, who made his presence felt immediately by playing role in the first goal.
The seasoned midfielder attempted a header in a 29th minute corner kick by Afif, which took a deflection of a Yemeni defender and landed to Hassan, who was in a perfect position to score the first goal from a close range.
Hassan showed his class in the second goal, firing a shot from 30 yards right into the middle of the box, with the ball landing in the cage after taking deflection of Yemen goalkeeper Abdullah.
Yemen were lucky to avoid further damage in the first session as Qatar made many more attacks following Hassan’s stunning goal.
In all, Qatar took a dozen of shots including five on target while keeping 71 percent of the ball possession in the first half.
There was no respite for Yemen in the second half as well, as the hosts continued to be aggressive and scored four more goals in the session.
They scored their third goal through Almoez, who culminated a brilliant move off a pass from Afif, firing a clinical left-footed strike.
Nasser Ahmed’s hand ball off a hit from Qatar’s Ismail Mohamed lent hosts a penalty, which Hassan converted comfortably with a strike in the middle to make it 4-0 for the Asian champions.
Alahrak and Afif sealed the big victory by scoring goals late, giving the hosts much-needed confidence ahead of a crunch game against the UAE.
While Qatar and UAE will square off in their last pool match, Yemen will look for consolation against Iraq in their final match, which is also scheduled for Monday.
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