Asian champions Qatar edged a fighting Oman 2-1 in the Group E match of the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Joint Qualifiers in Doha late on Tuesday.
Qatar, who raced to lead in the third minute through Akram Atif, also missed a penalty but Almoez Ali hit the winner in the 72nd minute after Al Munther al Alawi equalised for Oman.
With the win, Qatar extended their lead on top of the table with 10 points from four matches, while Oman are second with six points from three matches.
At the Al Janoub Stadium, one of the stadiums to host the 2022 World Cup, the hosts controlled the game with attacking football.
Al Munther al Alawi hit the equaliser for Oman in the 65th minute. Al Alwai dribbled past couple of Qatari defenders after stealing the ball from a rival player and his firm shot went through the legs of Qatari goalkeeper Saad al Sheeb for the equalising goal.
Almoez Ali put the Qatar again on lead when the Asian Cup 2019 player of the tournament put the shot to the left-hand corner of Oman net in the 72nd minute. Ali and Akram Atif exchanged passes and Ali unleashed a shot which just went past the hands of a diving Oman goalkeeper Fayez al Rusheidi.
Qatar stunned Oman when they hit the target in the third minute after Akram Atif made a clean finish from a pass from Yusuf Abdurisag.
Qatar captain Hasan Haydous missed a penalty in the 25th minute. The penalty was awarded after goal-scorer Atif was fouled by Oman goalkeeper Fayez al Rusheidi in a one-to-one situation inside the Qatar penalty box.
Almoez Ali’s strong shot hit an Omani defender’s legs as ball sailed over the bar, much to the relief of Oman goalkeeper Faiz al Rusheidi in the 14th minute.
Oman got their first free kick outside Qatar box after a foul on forward Mohammad al Ghassani. But captain Ahmed Mubarak Kanu’s shot was way over the target. Qatar defender Pedro Miguel received a yellow card for the foul.
Earlier, Al Mundhar al Alawi — Oman’s star against India — made the first shot on goal for the visitors in the ninth minute.
In the 35th minute, Oman conceded a corner to deny Almoez Ali.
In the 40th minute, Ali failed to properly connect a well-directed cross that kept the Omani defenders and goalkeeper clueless.
And, Ali’s screaming shot rocketed above the bar past an advancing Fayez just before the half-time.
In the second half, Qatar’s Tarik Salman’s timely tackle cleared the ball of Oman striker Abdulaziz al Muqbali in the 50th minute.
In the ensuing corner Qatari defenders kept in check an on-rushing Mohammed al Ghassani to avert danger.
Salman, strong in Qatar defence, had kept Al Muqbali, who netted a brace against Afghanistan in their last home match, silent for most part of the match.
Oman’s substitute Mohammed Khasib made a valiant attempt in the 86th minute but missed the target.
BANGLADESH HOLD INDIA
In another match of Group E, hosts India salvaged a 1-1 draw against neighbours Bangladesh at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Centreback Adil Khan’s header goal put India on level in the 88th minute after Bangladesh led through Saad Uddin’s header in the 41st minute.
India, who were looking for their first win in the group after a creditable goalless draw against Qatar in Doha, had possession and good chances in the match but failed to deliver in front of cheering crowd in Kolkata.
After three matches, India are fourth in group with two points, while Bangladesh earned their first point and are at bottom.
Afghanistan, who lost to Oman 3-0 in Muscat last week, are third with three points from as many matches.