Iraq fall short in quest to reach Asian Cup quarter-finals
Bassam Al Rawi's second-half free kick sends Qatar through to showdown against South Korea
Iraq bowed out of the Asian Cup on Tuesday as Bassam Al Rawi's superb free kick sent Qatar through to a quarter-final showdown against South Korea.
The Iraqi players put in stoic performances and deserved more for their effort, but ultimately lacked the quality in front of goal to seriously trouble their opponents.
In the end, Al Rawi's effort from 25 yards on 62 minutes was enough to clinch both the match and a match against South Korea on Friday for a place in the semi-finals.
There wasn’t a dull moment at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi as a crowd of 14,701 witnessed two teams prepared to take the initiative from the first whistle.
With the game only four minutes old Qatar's Abdelkarim Hassan’s right-footed shot crashed against the crossbar after the ball was deflected kindly into his path off Iraq midfielder Amjed Kadhim.
Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb was soon forced into action, making a fine save at the feet of Mohanad Ali after winger Akram Afif had fluffed to clearance.
Iraq centre-back Ahmad Ibrahim Khalaf struggled to deal with a ball over the top and could only play it into the path of Almoez Ali. The defender's initial touch was heavy and the second saw him clatter into the onrushing Jalal Hassan in the Iraqi goal, although the referee waved away appeals for a penalty.
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With half-an-hour played Iraq were forced into a substitution. Influential winger Humam Tareq pulled up sharply with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and was in tears as he was carried off on a stretcher.
Iraq looked more organised when they returned for the second half and earned a free kick at the edge of the box which Ali Adnan sent way over the crossbar.
When the deadlock was broken, it was done expertly so by Al Rawi.
Hussein Al Saedi brought down Abdelkarim Hassan outside the area and the Qatari centre-back curled in a free kick to beat Jalal Hassan at his near post.
Iraq made a valiant effort for the equaliser. Ali Adnan Khadim fired a free kick from 30 yards just wide of the near post and Ahmed Ibrahim’s header on a cross from the right flank was just wide of the target.
With the match about to reach its conclusion, Iraq were again presented with a free kick out on the left-hand side but again a Qatari defender managed to clear his lines at the death.
Updated: January 22, 2019 10:35 PM