KUWAIT CITY, December 27, 2017 - Iraq on Tuesday
fought back after a conceding an early goal to beat defending champion Qatar
2-1 in their Gulf Cup match at Kuwait Sports Club Stadium.
Young striker Almoez Ali had given Qatar the
lead in the 17th minute with a spectacular left-footed drive but three-time
champions Iraq hit back with key strikes from Fayez Ali (45) and substitute Ali
It was Qatar's first loss in two matches while
Tuesday's narrow win revived Iraq hopes of a semi-final berth following a 1-1
draw against Bahrain on Saturday.
In another Group B match at the same venue on
Tuesday, Bahrain edged past Yemen 1-0 to get their first win.
In the first minute of the clash played in
chilly winds, Iraq's defensive midfielder Amjed Attwan - following a loopy
cross from the midfield - took aim at the Qatar goal from the edge of the
box but his swinging shot was neatly pouched by 'keeper Saad Al Sheeb.
A minute later, Qatar's feared striker Hassan Al
Haydos attempted a similar long-range show that sailed past the Iraqi goalpost
without causing much harm.
After a few minutes of pensive action, Iraq's
Aymen Hussein was twice caught off-side by the linesman in the space of just
two minutes. Seconds later in the 13th minute, Iraq forward Hussein went
long-range on a quick-footed drive but the ball sailed past the Qatari
Seconds later Iraq's long-haired attacking
midfielder Hummam Tareq - stationed near the edge of the Qatar box - produced a
neat lob towards the goal but 'keeper Al Sheeb had to put in the dive to clear
the ball away.
In a spectacular effort Qatar stunned the Iraqi
backline with the opening goal in the 17th minute. Captain Al Haydos picked up
a loose ball from the midfield and after slaloming for a few meters he spotted
Ali unmarked close to the Iraqi box and slipped a low cross to the tall
Ali let the ball come to him and despite being
shadowed by Iraq's Rabin Ghareeb near his own box, Ali unleashed a powerful left-footed
drive that took the ball past the diving Iraqi goalkeeper Jalal Hassan and
crashed into the net at high speed.
As Qatar players celebrated with their trademark
high fives but coach Sanchez presented muted response knowing plenty
of time was left in the match.
At the half-hour mark, Iraq's Hussein forced his
way into the Qatar box but his shot from close range lacked pace
allowing Qatari keeper Al Sheeb to collect the ball with ease. But just
seconds later, Hussein's team mate Attwan unleashed a shot full of pace from
the edge of the box that narrowly missed the Qatari goalpost.
In the 36th minute, Iraq midfielder Ali produced
a curling free kick some 30 yards away from the goal line but his shot was
flicked away by Qatar 'keeper Al Sheeb to kill the dangerous move.
Two minutes from the break, Qatar's Ahmed Yasser
was booked with a yellow card by the referee for bringing down Iraq's Mohammed
In injury time, Iraq produced probably the goal
of the championship on a long-range direct free-kick. Ali curled in a
spectacular free-kick - from 30 yards out - that beat the Qatar wall and diving
keeper Al Sheeb before crashing into the top right of net.
Three minutes into the second half, Iraq were
denied by the woodwork. Iraq forward Hussein jumped high above his markers but
his snap-header hit into the turf and then got deflected away with a bounce on
the Qatari crossbar.
Qatar coach Sanchez brought in Mohammed
Muntari in the 64th minute to replace Ismail Mohammed but a couple of minutes
later, Iraq jumped to a 2-1 lead. Substitute Ali Husny - unmarked in the
presence of three defenders - deflected the ball from close range following a
loopy ball from Tareq on the flank.
Four minutes later, Iraq's Hussein Ali swivelled
past a couple of Qatari markers but his shot from the edge of the box missed
its target by very little. A minute later, substitute Muntari fumbled with an
easy deflection from close range in a miss that should have been easily
converted with only the Iraqi goalkeeper at his mercy.
In a double substitution, Qatar benched striker
Ali for Ali Feyrouddin while Iraq brought in Mustafa Nadim in place of
Abdulkareem two minutes apart in the 80th minute.
Qatar keeper Al Sheeb produced top saves to kill
Iraq attacks in the final minutes of the match.
Qatar take on Bahrain on Friday. The same day
Iraq face Yemen.