Newcastle, Australia: The United Arab Emirates overcame a 10-man Iraq 3-2 in an action-packed Asian Cup third-placed playoff on Friday to complete an impressive tournament for Mahdi Ali’s side.
Ahmed Khalil netted twice before Ali Mabkhout converted a second-half penalty for his fifth of the tournament to take him top of the scorers’ charts with only Saturday’s final between hosts Australia and South Korea to come in Sydney.
UAE playmaker Omar Abdulrahman was again at the heart of his side’s good play, with two brilliant assists for Khalil, who stepped in as skipper with goalkeeper Majed Naser rested after the 2-0 semi-final loss to Australia.
The opener came in the 16th minute when Abdulrahman controlled a long ball from deep and played a one-two with Mabkhout before sliding an inviting pass for Khalil to slot home under the onrushing Mohammed Hameed in the Iraq goal.
The neat counter-attack goal had a negative effect on the UAE, who knocked out holders Japan in the last eight, with Iraq taking a grip of the game and the lead just before the halftime break.
Careless defending in the 28th minute allowed fullback Waleed Salim to break into the UAE penalty area and his right foot shot deflected home off Khamis Esmaeel.
The 2007 champions, beaten 2-0 by the Koreans in the semis, had already hit the post via talismanic striker Younis Mahmoud and they deservedly took the lead three minutes before the break.
A powerful drive by Ahmed Yaseen Gheni was parried by debutant UAE keeper Khalid Eisa with Amjed Kalaf on hand to divert home into an unguarded net… see more