AFC Asian Cup 2019: Teenage sensation Mohanad Ali shines as Iraq beat Yemen 3-0

AFC Asian Cup 2019 Iraq Yemen

Iraq became the second team from Group D to book a spot in the knockout stages of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 after registering a 3-0 win over tournament debutants Yemen on Saturday. 

Teenage sensation Mohanad Ali opened the scoring for Iraq in the 11th minute of the encounter held at the Al Sharjah Stadium in Sharjah before a deflected effort from Bashar Resan Bonyan made it 2-0 eight minutes later. Substitute Alaa Abbas put the icing on the cake with a simple finish in the dying minutes of the game.

Esteghlal’s 22-year-old winger Humam Tariq, who impressed as a half-time substitute in Iraq’s game one and scored against Vietnam as well, started on the wings for the Lions of Mesopotamia who did not let their coach Jan Kocian down as they began the game with a bang.

Just like he did against the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 champions, wonderkid Mohanad was the one who opened Iraq’s account against Yemen — this time capping off another individual move with a brilliant finish.  The 18-year-old who latched onto a loose ball rounded one defender after another before applying a sharp finish to make it 1-0 for Iraq.

Yemen, who suffered a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of three-time champions Iran, had an opportunity to restore parity in the 16th minute, but Abdulwasea Al-Matari headed wide from an Ahmed Al-Sarori free kick coming inches away from scoring the Asian Cup debutants’ first-ever goal in the continental championship.

However, it was Iraq who found the back of the net few minutes later as this time, they were aided by some luck as well. This time it was Persepolis FC midfilder Bashar who took the plaudits as he collected a pass from left-back Ali Adnan, made some space for himself at outside the area and fired in a shot which deflected off a defender and deceived Yemen goalkeeper Saoud Al-Sowadi.

Yemen coach Srecko Katanec made a very early change as he introduced Wahid Muhammed in place of Hussein Al-Ghazi in the midfield and the Red Devils looked an improved side for a brief period in the first-half without creating any clear-cut chances. And thus, the score remained 2-0 as the player headed back to the dressing rooms.

Yemen did not see much of the ball in the second half and the first chance of the second 45 fell to none other than Mohanad in the 64th minute. Bashar set up the youngster with the goal at his mercy, but Mohanad wouldn’t have his second of the night as his effort hit the woodwork and returned to play.

Mohanad once again tired his luck, this time with a speculative effort from distance in the 70th minute, but his effort, after doing extremely well to evade two Yemeni defenders, flew well wide of the mark. But the final nail in Yemen’s coffin would come in the added time of the second half when Abbas, who replaced Mohanad, tapped in Iraq’s third.

Iraq now have six points for their first two matches and will now take on Iran in what promised to be a highly-charged match at the Al Maktoum stadium in Dubai on January 16 which would decide which team tops the Group D of the Asian Cup 2019.

YEMEN: Saoud Al-Sowadi, Ala Addin Mahdi, Ammar Hamsan, Mudir Abdurabu, Mohammed Ba Rowis, Ahmed Al-Haifi (Ahmed Saee 45′), Abdulwasea Al-Matari, Ala Al-Sasi (Ahmed Nabil Dhabban 83′), Hussein Al-Ghazi (Wahid Mohammed 30′), Ahmed Al-Sarori, Emad Mansoor Tawfik

IRAQ: Jalal Hassan Hachim, Ali Adnan, Rebin Sulaka, Ahmad Ibrahim, Alaa Ali Mhawi, Safaa Hadi, Hussein Al-Saedi (Mohammed Dawood 88′), Bashar Resan Bonyan, Humam Tariq Faraj (Amjed Attwan Kadhim 55′), Ahmed Yasin, Mohanad Ali (Alaa Abbas 71′)