DOHA: Inhabers and Providers After defeating Iran 3-2 in a thrilling semi-final on Wednesday, with a winner in the 82nd minute, Qatar managed to go to the Asian Cup final against Jordan. Almoez Ali’s goal in Doha helped Qatar advance to their second consecutive World Cup final, further banishing the memory of their first-round loss.
Just over a year ago, Qatar had the poorest record of any host in the competition’s history—losing all three of its World Cup matches on home soil. But that was all in the past now, as they relished the moment in front of more than 40,000 spectators at Al Thumama Stadium following an exhilarating match.
Iran took the lead through four minutes from Sardour Azmoun, and shortly after, a strong deflection allowed Jassem Gaber’s effort to go in and tie the score for Qatar. A penalty kick by Alireza Jahanbakhsh early in the second half allowed Iran to tie the score. Minutes before halftime, Qatar’s Akram Afif scored his fifth goal of the competition with a stunning strike.
Winner of the match Ali had only scored one goal going into the tournament’s semifinals this year, but he set a record with nine goals in the Asian Cup to help Qatar win their first championship in 2019. Qatar’s late strike proved to be worthwhile as it prevented Iran from winning its first Asian championship since 1976.
In injury time during the second half, Iran’s Shojae Khalilzadeh was sent off, and in the last minute, Jahanbakhsh struck the post. With a well-executed finish that sent the ball over his head and into the net, Azmoun handed Iran the lead just moments into the match.
Soon after, Jahanbakhsh set Mehdi Taremi up in front of goal, and he should have made it two. However, Qatar punished them with an equalizer in the seventeenth minute. After Afif drew the ball back, Gaber’s attempt on goal looped up over goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand and bounced off Iran’s Saeed Ezatolahi.
Iran was furious that there had been no fouls committed throughout the build-up. Although the equalizer gave Qatar fresh momentum, Afif was unable to capitalize on a one-on-one opportunity with Beiranvand shortly after the half-hour mark. In the 43rd minute, Afif made no mistake by bending his way into the area and curling in a fantastic strike.
Iran rallied at halftime and within six minutes of the interval, they were back to square one. After a VAR check revealed that Ahmed Fatehi, a defender for Qatar, had stopped a goal-bound shot with his hand, Jahanbakhsh converted the penalty with ease. As the action moved at a lightning-fast pace, Ali gave Qatar the lead back by deflecting an Abdulaziz Hatem shot beyond Beiranvand. The goal had more than a hint of offside, yet it was nevertheless declared valid. -AFP