Oman Daily Observer - - SPORT -

SHAR­JAH: Iraq sealed a place in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 knock­out stage after cruis­ing to a 3-0 win over Ye­men in a Group D tie at the Shar­jah Sta­dium on Satur­day.

Iraq’s sec­ond suc­ces­sive vic­tory — hav­ing de­feated Viet­nam 3-2 on Match­day One — meant Srecko Katanec’s team join Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran on six points with Wed­nes­day’s clash with Team Melli to de­ter­mine who fin­ishes at the top of the stand­ings.

Iran de­feated Viet­nam 2-0 ear­lier on Satur­day. For Ye­men, it was their sec­ond de­feat after hav­ing lost 5-0 to Iran in their opener.

De­spite Iraq com­ing into the match as the heavy favourites, it was Ye­men who ap­plied the early pres­sure.

Iraq, how­ever, grad­u­ally be­gan to dom­i­nate pos­ses­sion and took the lead in the 11th minute when 18-year-old Mo­hanad Ali Kad­him beat the Ye­men de­fence be­fore un­leash­ing a shot from out­side the box into the bot­tom right cor­ner.

Ye­men had their first look at goal from a set-piece five min­utes later, but Ab­dul­wasea al Matari sent his header just above the bar. Ye­men goal­keeper Saoud al Sowadi soon found him­self un­der in­ces­sant pres­sure and con­ceded the sec­ond goal in the 19th minute when Bashar Re­san Bonyan’s strike from the top of the box bounced off the right post be­fore set­tling in the net.

Iraq took their foot off the pedal after that but Jan Ko­cian’s Ye­men found it dif­fi­cult to gain pos­ses­sion as the 2007 cham­pi­ons com­fort­ably held on to their lead go­ing into the break.

It was end to end ac­tion in the sec­ond half as both teams came close to find­ing the net with Ahmed Saeed’s right-footed shot from out­side the box just kept out by Iraq goal­keeper Jalal Hassan Hachim in the 59th minute.

Iraq re­sponded five min­utes later, with Ali Kad­him com­ing close to get­ting his sec­ond but his lob was de­nied by the post and Ahmed Yaseen Gheni missed the chance to tuck the re­bound home.

Ye­men had an­other chance to give them­selves a chance to find a way back from a set-piece in the 82nd min­utes which missed the tar­get.

In­stead, 2015 semi­fi­nal­ists Iraq ended pro­ceed­ings on a high note as Alaa Abbas score with a left-footed shot from the cen­tre of the box into the net.


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