With Alberto Zacherroni’s United Arab Emirates (UAE) going through to the quarterfinals following a dramatic 3-2 win over Kyrgyz Republic, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the key talking points.
Highlights – United Arab Emirates vs Kyrgyz Republic
Khamis Esmaeel opened the scoring for UAE in the 14th minute, before Mirlan Murzaev levelled for Kyrgyz Republic just 12 minutes later. Ali Mabkhout sent the hosts back in front after the break, but Kyrgyz super-sub Tursunali Rustamov had other ideas – heading his side level in the first minute of injury time to send the game into extra time.
Despite Kyrgyztan striking the post in the dying seconds of the game, Khalil’s penalty in the 103rd minute was enough to send UAE through to the quarter-finals 3-2. Here are the five talking points from the game.
5. Fluid UAE find early opener
AFC Asian Cup 2019: UAE 1-0 Kyrgyz Republic – Khamis Esmaeel (14′)
Through to the quarters despite riding their luck at times in the group phases, UAE certainly looked the more composed of the two sides in the opening exchanges. Finding their way into the game with some neat passages of play, it was no surprise when they opened the scoring as early as the 14th minute. Ghanim picked out Khamis Esmaeel with his delivery from a corner which the midfielder put into the net with a simple header to put the UAE one up in front of their adoring home crowd.
4. Calm Murzaev pulls Kyrgyz level
AFC Asian Cup 2019: UAE 1-1 Kyrgyz Republic – Mirlan Murzaev (26′)
Despite having started the worse of the two sides and falling behind in the 14th minute, Kyrgyzstan did not lose their resolve and worked their way into the game. It did not take long for the visitors to reap their reward, equalizing in the 26th minute by virtue of a cool finish from striker Murzaev to pull them level, which as it turns out was the final goal before half time – both sides going level into the break.
3. Hosts punish unlucky visitors
AFC Asian Cup 2019: UAE 2-1 Kyrgyz Republic – Ali Mabkhout (64′)
Having had only 38 percent of possession in the first half, Kyrgyzstan huddled up in a circle seconds after making their way onto the pitch post half-time, seemingly for a pep-talk. Their show of collective resolve worked wonders as they lay siege to the UAE goal – creating one chance after another but failing to convert. Skipper Valeri Kichin’s curler from the right-hand side rattled the crossbar before another couple of opportunities went begging. The home team took full advantage of their opponent’s profligacy – Mabkhout putting them back in front with an ice cold finish in the 64th minutue.
4. Super-sub Rustamov rescues Kyrgyz at the death
AFC Asian Cup 2019: UAE 2-2 Kyrgyz Republic – Tursunali Rustamov (90+1′)
Having come on just 15 minutes prior, Kyrgyzstan’s number 7 dragged his side back into the game in the most dramatic of ways, heading in a corner in the first minute of injury time to level the scores once again. With what would’ve likely been their final opportunity of the game, the Kyrgyz Republic conjured up the most magical of moments, sending the game into extra time and UAE fans into disbelief.
5. Zaccheroni’s UAE go through in incredible showdown
AFC Asian Cup 2019: UAE 3-2 Kyrgyz Republic – Ahmed Khalil (103′)
Kick-starting extra-time with two horrid misses from Mabkhout within 5 minutes of each other, the UAE finally got back in front courtesy of a controversial penalty awarded by the referee in the 103rd minute, converted by Khalil, which was very nearly saved by the goalkeeper. As had been the theme of the game, Kyrgyzstan game back strongly and had their best chance of the game in the added time post extra time, super-sub Rustamov striking the post in the 121st minute, before UAE cleared their lines one last time – holding on in the final seconds to go through the quarter-finals of the tournament in front of an expectant home crowd.