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Qatar end Palestine run, Jordan stun Iraq with Asian Cup late show

By AFP

January 29, 2024 11:39 PM


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Hosts and holders Qatar fought back to defeat Palestine 2-1 and reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals on Monday, joining a Jordan side who struck twice in injury time to stun Iraq.

Qatar will face the winner of Tuesday's last-16 meeting between Uzbekistan and Thailand, the lowest-ranked team left in Doha at 113 in the world.

Palestine were playing in the knockout rounds for the first time and, against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, took a surprise first-half lead.

Fresh from beating Hong Kong 3-0 for their first win in the competition's history, Palestine made a bright start and Oday Dabbagh fired them ahead on 37 minutes at the tent-like Al-Bayt Stadium.

He and his team-mates celebrated by crossing their raised arms in a handcuffs gesture to symbolise the plight of the Palestinian people.

Qatar had failed to settle in front of an expectant crowd of 65,000 and the Palestinians, ranked 99 to the home side's 58, were dreaming of making more history by advancing to the last eight against the odds.

But captain Hassan Al-Haydos came to Qatar's rescue on the stroke of half-time when he rammed the ball past goalkeeper Rami Hamada after a corner was neatly cut back to him by Akram Afif.

Afif then scored his fourth goal of the tournament, from the penalty spot, four minutes after the break.

Qatar cruised through the rest of the match with Palestine tiring badly.

 

- Jordan's stunning comeback -

 

Jordan will meet Tajikistan in the quarter-finals after scoring twice in three minutes deep in stoppage time to beat Iraq 3-2.

There were chaotic scenes in Iraq's post-match press conference when angry Iraqi reporters confronted the team's Spanish coach Jesus Casas, before security stepped in to usher them away.

"It pains me what happened," Casas said of the incident.

Jordan had a man advantage after the 77th-minute dismissal of Aymen Hussein but looked down and out in injury time, only for Yazan Al-Arab to prod in a 95th-minute leveller.

If that was hard to believe, better was to come two minutes later for Jordan when Nizar Al-Rashdan curled in from outside the box to fire the underdogs into the last eight and spark wild celebrations.

Iraq's heartbroken players were left flat-out on the turf, their dreams of repeating the country's fairytale 2007 Asian Cup title somehow snatched from their grasp.

Jordan's coach Hussein Ammouta agreed with Casas that the harsh dismissal of Hussein for a second yellow card for over-celebrating what he thought was Iraq's winner changed the game.

"The second half belonged to them, they scored two goals and then had to continue with 10 players," said the Moroccan.

Jordan, who held South Korea 2-2 in the group phase, next face a Tajikistan side who are one of the surprise packages of the competition on their Asian Cup debut.

On Tuesday, Jurgen Klinsmann's South Korea play Roberto Mancini's Saudi Arabia for the right to face Australia in the last eight.


AFP


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