MUSCAT: A confident Iraq marched into the final of the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup with a 2-1 win over a competent Qatar in a pulsating first semifinal at the Basra International Stadium in Iraq on Monday.
Ibrahim Bayesh put Iraq ahead in the 19th minute from a close range after Mustafa Nadhim’s header from the centre of the box was punched away by Qatar goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham. The ball fell in place for Bayesh who hit it powerfully to the roof of the Qatar net.
Qatar, who were playing aggressively from the start, didn’t have to wait long for the equaliser.
Ahmed Alaa made a good advance to the right side of the Iraq penalty box and made a clever back-heel lob back to play. An onrushing Amro Abdelfatah made no delay in unleashing a firm right-footer to the bottom right corner of the Iraq net in the 28th minute to make it 1-1.
Iraq pushed ahead after the equaliser and Qatar were not behind in threatening counter attacks.
In the 41st minute, Qatar’s Mohammed Waad received an assist from Amro Abdelfatah and tried a long-ranger which missed to the left.
The next move put the Iraqi fans ecstatic again. Amjad Attwan gave a good pass to Aymen Hussein in front of the Qatar penalty box and Hussein struck with a firm shot to the center of the goal as Iraq regained the lead 2-1.
In the 45th minute, Qatar’s Tarek Salman tried a through ball, but Khalid Muneer was caught offside.
Qatar’s Ahmed Alaa was booked for a rough tackle in the 17th minute.
Qatar made a promising move in the 15th minute. Khalid Muneer got near the box and his right-footed shot was blocked after an assist by Ali Asad.
Earlier, Qatar defence was able to block a left-footer by Iraq’s Ali Faez in the 10th minute from the centre of the box after a cross by Dhurgham Ismail.
Qatar’s Ismaeel Mohammad got a yellow card for a bad foul on Ibrahim Bayesh in the ninth minute.
Iraq’s Mohammed Ali Abbood was shown a yellow in the sixth minute for a rough tackle on Ali Asad.
The match started with a good attempt by Amjad Attwan for the hosts. Attwan’s right-footed long-range shot on the left was put away by the Qatari defender.
The second-half began with Qatar making efforts for a second equaliser.
Qatar made a strong move in the 49th minute. Mohammed Waad’s measured pass was well received by Amro Abdelfatah to hit the right post with a right-footed shot from the centre of the box.
Iraq made good pressure in the 70th minute to earn a free kick outside the Qatar box after a foul on hardworking Aymen Hussein by Qatari defender Jassem Gaber.
Qatar keeper Barsham was busy for the next few moments. At first, he saved a Dhurgham Ismail free kick in the right corner. Attwan tried with a left-footer, which was blocked by the Iraqi defence.
Barsham rose high next to put the Aymen header over the bar.
Iraq coach Jesus Garcia replaced Mohammed Ali Abbood with Sherko Kareem in the 64th minute after Qatar coach Bruno Pinheiro substituted Khalid Muneer with Tameem Al Abdullah.
Qatar’s Tarek Salman was booked for a rough tackle on Amjad Attwan in the 60th minute.
In the fourth minute of the eight-minute injury time, Iraq came close to a third goal. Amjad Attwan’s right-footer from the centre of the box missed the target narrowly to the left after a pass by Dhurgham Ismail.