AFC Asian Cup 2019: Bassam blinder helps Qatar down Iraq

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Bassam Al-Rawi emerged as the hero for Qatar on Tuesday as he scored the only goal of the game to hand them a 1-0 victory over Iraq in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Round of 16.

Following a goalless first half at the Al Nahyan Stadium, Bassam produced a moment of inspiration shortly after the hour mark as he curled a freekick into the bottom corner to win the tie for the Qataris.

Highlights – Qatar vs Iraq

It does not get any easier for Qatar with Korea Republic their next opponents in the quarter-finals, although they certainly should not be written off just yet following a campaign that has so far seen them win four consecutive matches with a record of 11 goals scored and none conceded.

Having done well to finish top of Group E ahead of Saudi Arabia, the ‘reward’ for Qatar came in the form of a meeting with the Iraqis, who were similarly impressive throughout the group stage.

Al-Annabi did start Tuesday’s game brightly and were unlucky not to draw first blood after just four minutes, when Abdelkarim Hassan was picked out by Boualem Khoukhi and guided a shot towards goal on his weaker right foot, only to see it come back off the bar.

The usually-dangerous Akram Afif struggled to make an impact against Iraq.

In fact, it was a moment of carelessness that presented Iraq with their first opportunity in the 23rd minute; Akram Afif giving away possession on the edge of the box to Mohanad Ali, whose touch at the pivotal moment was too heavy and allowed Saad Al-Sheeb to come out of goal and snuff out the threat.

Abdelkarim, who was offering the Qataris plenty of energy down the left, then came close again in first-half stoppage time when his attempted cross took a wicked deflection off Ahmad Ibrahim and had opposition goalkeeper Jalal Hassan completely beaten, only for the woodwork to come to Iraq’s rescue once more.

While the Lions of Mesopotamia did look dangerous on the counter, Qatar continued to look the team in control in the second 45.

And, two minutes after the hour mark, Bassam finally provided the breakthrough in similar fashion to when he scored their opening goal of the campaign against Lebanon – lifting a freekick just outside the area over the wall and squeezing it inside the post beyond Jalal’s despairing dive.

In possession of the lead, Qatar were now able to sit back and consolidate their lead, with it now being Iraq’s turn to push forward with greater intensity.

They did have a decent opportunity to equalise with 12 minutes remaining from a freekick of their own.

But Ali Adnan – their last-gasp hero on Match Day 1 with his injury-time winner against Vietnam – fired away an excellent effort that sailed narrowly wide of the top corner, which was Iraq’s last meaningful effort at goal as they bowed out of the Asian Cup following a promising start.

QATAR: Saad Al-Sheeb, Ro-Ro, Bassam Al-Rawi, Tarek Salman, Abdelkarim Hassan, Assim Madibo, Abdulaziz Hatem, Boualem Khoukhi, Hassan Al-Haydos (Karim Boudiaf 90’), Akram Afif, Almoez Ali.

IRAQ: Jalal Hassan, Alaa Ali Mhawi (Rebin Sulaka 71’), Ahmad Ibrahim, Ali Faez, Ali Adnan, Safaa Hadi, Amjad Attwan, Humam Tariq (Ali Husni 36’; Mohammed Dawood 66’), Bashar Resan, Hussein Ali, Mohanad Ali.