Iraq crush Yemen to enter knockouts

Sharjah: Iraq sealed a place in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 knockout stage after cruising to a 3-0 win over Yemen in a Group D tie at the Sharjah Stadium on Saturday.
Iraq’s second successive victory — having defeated Vietnam 3-2 on Matchday One — meant Srecko Katanec’s team join Islamic Republic of Iran on six points with Wednesday’s clash with Team Melli to determine who finishes at the top of the standings.
Iran defeated Vietnam 2-0 earlier on Saturday. For Yemen, it was their second defeat after having lost 5-0 to Iran in their opener.
Despite Iraq coming into the match as the heavy favourites, it was Yemen who applied the early pressure.
Iraq, however, gradually began to dominate possession and took the lead in the 11th minute when 18-year-old Mohanad Ali Kadhim beat the Yemen defence before unleashing a shot from outside the box into the bottom right corner.
Yemen had their first look at goal from a set-piece five minutes later, but Abdulwasea al Matari sent his header just above the bar.
Yemen goalkeeper Saoud al Sowadi soon found himself under incessant pressure and conceded the second goal in the 19th minute when Bashar Resan Bonyan’s strike from the top of the box bounced off the right post before settling in the net.
Iraq took their foot off the pedal after that but Jan Kocian’s Yemen found it difficult to gain possession as the 2007 champions comfortably held on to their lead going into the break.
It was end to end action in the second half as both teams came close to finding the net with Ahmed Saeed’s right-footed shot from outside the box just kept out by Iraq goalkeeper Jalal Hassan Hachim in the 59th minute.
Iraq responded five minutes later, with Ali Kadhim coming close to getting his second but his lob was denied by the post and Ahmed Yaseen Gheni missed the chance to tuck the rebound home.
Yemen had another chance to give themselves a chance to find a way back from a set-piece in the 82nd minutes which missed the target.
Instead, 2015 semifinalists Iraq ended proceedings on a high note as Alaa Abbas score with a left-footed shot from the centre of the box into the net.