x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Olympics: UAE exit but give hosts scare in their backyard

Mahdi Ali's men lose to Team Great Britain 3-1 during their London 2012 Group A football match.

From left to right, the UAE’s Omar Abdulrahman, Mohamed Ahmad, Khamis Ismail and Abdelaziz Sanqour look to stop Britain’s midfielder Aaron Ramsey. Eddie Keogh / Reuters
From left to right, the UAE’s Omar Abdulrahman, Mohamed Ahmad, Khamis Ismail and Abdelaziz Sanqour look to stop Britain’s midfielder Aaron Ramsey. Eddie Keogh / Reuters

LONDON // Three days before in Manchester they had led Uruguay in the first half, and last night they fought back to level against Britain at Wembley Stadium with 30 minutes to go.

Rashed Eisa took a fine through pass from Omar Abdulrahman and ran through to slot home from close range on the hour mark to leave the 80,000 Union Jack waving home fans shocked.

It could have been even better for Mahdi Ali's men as they briefly looked the more likely to get the next goal, with Ahmed Khalil seeing his close range effort saved by Jack Butland in the British goal.

The hosts responded, as one would expect they would, regaining the lead 13 minutes after they had been pegged back through substitute Scott Sinclair and adding a third three minutes later as Daniel Sturridge chipped the ball over the UAE goalkeeper Ali Kasheif from the edge of the area.

The defeat leaves the Emiratis unable to advance from Group A with one game left to play against Senegal on Wednesday in Coventry.

Britain move into a tie on top of the group with Senegal on four points, with the Africans having earlier beaten Uruguay 2-0.

Britain had led by a goal at half time, and only some excellent work from Kasheif and a bit of luck enabled the Emiratis to leave the pitch only one goal down.

The UAE showed some sparks of life in the first 10 minutes, earning three corners in that short span of time, and the frustration among the home support was audible as their team did not have things their own way. Abdulrahman did some good work during this stretch of play, with a dangerous run into the box leading to one of the corners.

As against Uruguay, the UAE were unable to demonstrate any sort of threats from corners. Their lack of size in attack, other than from Ahmed Khalil, leaves them at a disadvantage against teams with size.

The game swung in the second 10 minutes as Britain began to string together passes and stretched the UAE defence apart.

Ryan Giggs seemed to be the man in the middle of it all, which is particularly impressive considering the Manchester United midfielder, at 38, is nearly 10 years older than Ismael Matar, who was born in 1983.

That Giggs had a hand in the opening goal in the 16th minute was no surprise – his club teammate Tom Cleverley had the ball on the left wing untroubled by any UAE defenders, and he lofted a soft cross to the far post. Giggs got in behind the UAE backline and headed it back across goal and out of the reach of Kasheif.

The rest of the half was about the Al Jazira goalkeeper making fine saves, keeping out a Marvin Sordell shot, reacting with tremendous speed to keep out a Micah Richards header and diving to his right to stop Craig Bellamy.

But the UAE rode their luck in the 45th minute when Kasheif was beaten by an effort from Cleverley and was a relieved to see strike both posts before rebounding to safety.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

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