United Arab Emirates got their Asian Cup campaign off to a winning start after romping to a massive 4-1 win over Qatar in Canberra. And it wasn’t a fluke either as they started the match on a positive note, controlling the ball and distributing it efficiently.
That being said, Qatar snatched the lead against the run of play. Midway through the first half, Mohd Muntari’s shot was tipped away by Majed Naser but Khalfan Ibrahim was well positioned to lob the rebound into the back of the net.
But that did not deter the UAE folks. They kept pushing on the offensive and were visibly causing plenty of trouble on the final third. Their efforts paid dividends on the 36th minute mark; Ahmed Khalil scoring to level the game and thus shift the dynamics of the match, heading into half time.
After the break, UAE got their second and it was that man, Ahmed Khalil again. This time around, he dispatched a terrific free kick into the back of the net to make it 2-1 on the day.
Their third goal also had something to do with a free kick, as Khamis Esmaeel’s effort was pushed away Majed, but Ali Mabkhout fired the rebound into the back of the net. Just moments before the full time whistle, Mabkhout added his second of the day, to make it 4-1 and thus seize an impeccable victory to start their campaign on an impressive note.
Meanwhile, Iran fought tremendously well to snatch a 2-0 win against a highly competitive Bahrain side, who were relatively unlucky on the day. It was all exciting from the get-go; both sides pushing to create chances on the final third. But the momentum slowly switched towards Iran as the game progressed, perhaps due to the massive support they were receiving at the Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne.
They finally broke the deadlock at the end of the first half, with Ehsan Hajsafi firing home to put Iran 1-0 ahead. It was the perfect time to get a goal, and it left a massive dent on Bahrain’s general confidence; which showcased its effect in the second half.
Iran had three goals ruled out for offside throughout the game, but they ultimately did double their lead on the 71st minute. Masoud Shojaei showcased brilliant composure in handling Andranik Teymourian’s cross, before sending it into the back of the net effectively.
Bahrain did try to stage a late comeback, but the Iranians were more than happy to sit back and protect a comfortable 2-0 lead, which ultimately gave them the win and valuable three points at full time.