KUWAIT CITY, December 23, 2017 - Defending champions Qatar on Saturday crushed Yemen 4-0 to open their Gulf Cup campaign in convincing fashion.
Coached by Felix Sanchez, Qatar scored three goals in the first 18 minutes as Akram Afif (2), Mehdi Ali Mukhtar (5) and Almoaz Ali (18)
stunned the backline of Yemen in the Group B encounter.
Pedro Miguel scored the fourth in the second half (84) to complete Qatar's resounding win at the Kuwait Sports Club Stadium where chilly
playing conditions prevailed throughout the match.
Qatar opened the scoring through Afif in just the second minute of the Group B clash on the lush green pitch at Kuwait SC Stadium.
Afif, on a cross by Ismail Mohammed, jumped high in the air to produce a snap-header deflecting the ball into the net from close range.
With barely time to settle down, Qatar defender Mukhtar headed home from close range following a goalmouth melee.
In the 7th minute, Ahmed Abdulkareem of Yemen clipped a low ball from the flank but teammates Abdullah Mohammed and Mohsen Hassan both failed to connect the ball from barely three feet of the Qatari goal.
In the 11th minute, Yemeni midfielder Abdullah Mohammed curled in a ball for defender Mohammed Fawad who - standing inside the Qatari box - headed the ball just above the crossbar.
Two minutes on and Qatar nearly added to their score but Ali's header from close range - on a cross from Afif - was smartly grabbed by Yemen goalkeeper Mohammed Ibrahim.
A few moments later, Qatar captain Hassan Al Haydos fired a bullet from a few feet of the Yemeni goal but 'keeper Ibrahim successfully punched the ball away.
Qatar jumped to a 3-0 cushion in the 17th minute when Ali - the Qatari U-23 star - closed out a smart deflection from close range following a cross by Ismail Mohammed stationed on the flank.
In the 34th minute, Qatar's goal hero Ali produced a sliding tackle to clear the ball with Yemen's Mohsen Mohammed set to get an unmarked run towards the Qatari goal with only keeper Saad Al Sheeb to beat.
Seconds later, Qatar's Ali charged into the Yemen box but his clip was blocked by 'keeper Ibrahim to kill the move.
Five minutes from the first-half whistle, Yemen's tireless midfielder Abdulhakeem did score from close range but the goal was disallowed by the linesman. Seconds later Yemen suffered more agony when Ala Mohammed was slapped with a yellow card for bringing down Qatar's Asim Umar.
In a sporting gesture roundly cheered roundly by the crowd, Qatar striker Al Haydos - with his tail up and nose towards the Yemen goal - flicked the ball out of play as two Yemen players called for medical assistance just seconds from the first-half whistle.
Three minutes into the second half, there was more misery for Yemen who got slapped with a another yellow card when Ahmed Abdullah brought down Qatar's Alkareem with a rough tackle.
At the one-hour mark, Yemen's Abdulhakeem - exhibiting great speed - curled in a beautiful shot from the edge of the Qatar box but his shot was saved by diving 'keeper Al Sheeb.
A couple of minutes later, Qatar's striker Mohammed fired a bullet on a free ball but Yemen 'keeper Ibrahim was alert to thwart the danger.
Abdulhakeem, running tirelessly all through the game, once again charged towards the Qatar box but his powerful shot was smartly blocked away by Al Sheeb in the 68th minute. Seconds later Qatar coach Sanchez benched forward Ali and brought in Mohammed Muntari.
In the 74th minute, Qatar's Ismail Mohammed smashed a powerful shot into the the Yemeni goalpost much to the dismay of the Qatar
supporters who easily numbered into hundreds.
With mounting attack from Yemen's Abdulhakeem, Qatar's Ahmed Fateh was shown a yellow card for bringing down the tireless attacking midfielder in the 79th minute. Seconds later coach Sanchez benched Ismail Mohammed and brought in Abdullah Alharq.
With Yemen showing signs of disarray, Miguel in the 84th minute headed home from close range for Qatar's fourth goal.