Palestine keep Asian Cup hopes alive with goalless draw against Jordan
Jordan's place in knockout stages already assured, having topped Group B, but opponents will wait to find out fate after other group games
Jordan were held to a goalless draw by Palestine in a tight Asian Cup clash to preserve their unbeaten record and progress as Group B winners.
Twice quarter-finalists, in 2004 and 2011, Jordan stunned holders Australia in their opening game before beating Syria 2-0. But they found plucky Palestine a tougher nut to crack in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday night.
Palestine had been crushed 5-1 by Jordan in their only other appearance at the Asian Cup in 2015, but such a one-sided game was highly unlikely this time around.
Abdallatif Al Bahdari's header gave Jordan a scare on the hour-mark of a match that was not one for football purists.
Jordan went close when Ahmad Ersan's long-range blast was blocked by Palestine goalkeeper Rami Hamada before the game petered out with both sides content to take a draw.
The Jordanians had already qualified for the knockout stages before Tuesday's game, and the stalemate made it seven points from nine for them. Their last-16 meeting will be against the third-placed team from either Group E, C or D in Dubai.
Meanwhile, Palestine will have to wait to see if they will claim one of the four best third-placed positions.
With Australia dramatically beating Syria in the group’s other game, Palestine finished third on two points, some four points behind runners-up Australia but crucially one ahead of fourth-placed Syria.
Jordan were without key player Mousa Suleiman Al Tamari, who was suspended after picking up a yellow card in each of his two previous outings. Yet, the table toppers started brightly at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.
Palestine's Mahmoud Wadi deflected Baha' Abdel Rahman’s free-kick narrowly wide of his own post and Ersan forced Hamada into action just five minutes after kick off.
Despite Jordan’s early pressure, Palestine went close to breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute, when keeper Amer Shafi produced a good save to keep out Palestine captain Abdallatif Al Bahdari’s flicked attempt from a Tamer Seyam corner.
Abdel Rahman then struck inches over the bar from distance before, in the final moments of the first half, Shafi punched clear with Palestine striker Wadi lurking.
Just six minutes after the break, Palestine threatened once again, this time Oday Dabbagh failing to find the target with a header from a Musab Battat delivery.
Not long after, Al Bahdari’s header was gathered on his line by Shafi. Jordan went close when Ersan’s long-range blast was blocked by Palestine goalkeeper Hamada.
Then Al Bahdari’s header gave Jordan a scare on the hour mark, before the game petered out with both sides seemingly content to take a draw.
Palestine looked set for a frustrating exit but they were given some hope at the end as news of Australia’s winner filtered through.
With inputs from other agencies
Updated: January 15, 2019 10:50 PM