Mahdi Ali's men started confidently, keeping possession and control with their short passing game for a major part of the first half. But the UAE had to win it in penalty kicks after Trinidad had tied the game in extra time, reports Amith Passela.
UAE hold nerve in shootout to reach OSN Cup final
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO 3
Trinidad – Plaza 56’, K Jones 87’ (pen), Molino 90’
UAE – Fardan 09’, Mabkhout 37’, Khalil 54’
Man of the match – Omar Abdulrahman (UAE)
UAE won 7-6 on penalties
What looked like the UAE heading to a comfortable victory turned into a great escape of sorts Thursday night after they surrendered a three-goal lead before struggling to win a 7-6 sudden-death penalty shootout over Trinidad and Tobago.
Ali Kasheif, the UAE captain and goalkeeper, saved Carlyle Mitchell's effort to clinch the victory after nine sets of penalties in the OSN Cup, a four-team friendly tournament, in the opening round at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh.
Habib Fardan put the UAE ahead in the ninth minute and Ali Mabkhout doubled the lead with a 35-yard shot that caught the Trinidad goalkeeper Jan Williams napping.
Ahmed Khalil extended the lead in the second half when he collected a looping pass from Omar Abdulrahman to tap it past Williams for a 3-0 advantage.
The UAE were still celebrating Khalil's goal when Trinidad moved quickly to score almost immediately, through substitute Willis Plaza, who headed a cross from a Lester Peltier.
Kenwyne Jones, the Stoke City striker, reduced the lead further from a spot kick after Kasheif felled Carlos Edwards.
Kevin Molino then headed the equaliser off a cross from Robert Primus. The UAE were unlucky when a volley in the waning moments of regulation from Seed Al Kathiri crashed against the post.
Mahdi Ali, the UAE coach, took the bold step of substituting both his strikers, Khalil and Mabkhout, just past the hour for the Al Wahda pair Mohammed Al Shehhi and Al Kathiri.
He acknowledged the substitutions broke the momentum, but insisted he wanted to provide playing opportunities to as many players as possible.
"We had the game under control and the substitutions didn't work as I would have wished," he said.
"The players were returning from a long break and I would reckon they would combine better for the next game.
"I think we still did well to hold our nerves and win, which was important."
Trinidad nearly pulled one back in added time of the first half when Radanfar Abubakr's header off a corner bounced in front of the goalmouth and ricocheted off the UAE defender Mohaned Salem's outstretched leg.
Kasheif leapt to collect the ensuing corner for the UAE to take a two-goal cushion at half time.
The Al Jazira keeper did well to stop a stinging low shot from Ataulla Guerra in the opening minute of the second half after a Mohammed Ahmed Gharib error.
The UAE were returning to action for the first time in more than five months and showed no rustiness.
At least, initially.
Mahdi Ali's men started confidently, keeping possession and control with their short passing game for a major part of the first half.
They also kept close tabs on their opponents with a close marking game.
The UAE will meet New Zealand in the final, after the All Whites defeated hosts Saudi Arabia 1-0.
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