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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

UAE defeat North Korea on penalties to reach Asian Games semi-finals

National team prevail on spot kicks for a second time after eliminating hosts Indonesia in the previous round

UAE players run to celebrate after winning the penalty shootout against North Korea in the Asian Games quarter-finals. Courtesy UAE FA
UAE players run to celebrate after winning the penalty shootout against North Korea in the Asian Games quarter-finals. Courtesy UAE FA

The UAE are through to the semi-finals of the Asian Games following a tense penalty-shootout victory against North Korea in Indonesia on Monday.

The Under-23 side, managed by Pole Maciej Skorza, rebounded from a goal down at the Pakansari Stadium in West Java to draw the match 1-1 before goalkeeper Mohammed Al Shamsi provided a telling contribution in the shootout. The UAE now face Japan on Wednesday for a place in the final.

It was North Korea who took the lead in the quarter-final just after the hour, when Kank Kuk-chol exchanged a neat one-two with Kim Kuk-bom before finding striker Kim Yu-song with a fine cross. Unmarked, the North Korean striker headed the ball down and off the inside of the UAE post. Al Shamsi was rooted to the spot. It was Kim’s fourth goal of the tournament.

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However, the Emirates responded brilliantly. Four minutes after conceding, top scorer Zayed Al Ameri broke down the UAE right and, with goalkeeper Kang Ju-hyok stranded, his pinpoint cross picked out frontman Ali Eid to head into an empty net.

North Korea then had a goal correctly disallowed 18 minutes from the conclusion of normal time, after Kim had nudged UAE captain Ahmed Rashid before heading home a corner.

In extra-time, Kim Kuk-bom crashed an effort off the opposition post before Rashid blocked the rebound on the line.

Pushed to penalties for the second successive match – on Friday, the UAE defeated hosts Indonesia in a shootout – Skorza’s young charges stood strong once more from the spot.

Both sides had successfully converted until So Jong-hyok’s effort was expertly saved by Al Shamsi. That left fellow substitute Mohammed Rashid to keep his cool to send his side into the last four.

The UAE’s best result from four previous appearances at the Asian Games remains the silver medal they won in 2010. Last time out, in 2014, they reached the quarter-finals.