Qatar underlined their FIFA Arab Cup credentials with a commanding 5-0 win over local rivals UAE at a full capacity Al Bayt stadium on Friday evening. The Asian champions showed their class in the first half scoring five against a hapless UAE who did improve slightly in the second half.
It was a far from an ideal start for the visitors as defender Mohanad Salem slipped on the ball and was immediately stolen by Almoez Ali, a quick pass to Akram Afif and the ball was in the net. The UAE looked to immediately restore parity Sebastián Tagliabué picked out Brazil-born attacker Caio Canedo but the cross was just too long for the Al Ain man.
Qatar looked sharp on the counter and created a chance to make it 2-0 moments later. Akram Afif picked out Almoez Ali who had the goal at his mercy, but a tame shot was eventually saved by the boot of UAE keeper Ali Khasif.
Qatar duly found a second just before the half-hour mark. Ismael Mohammed’s cross was handled by Mahmoud Khamis leaving the referee little choice but to award a penalty. Almoez Ali stepped up and smashed the ball home to make it 2-0.
Eight minutes later and Qatar Almoez Ali was pulled down and Boualem Khoukhi stepped up to take the penalty. The Al Sadd defender made no mistake arrowing the spot-kick into the top left corner. Qatar smelt blood and effectively killed off any hope of a UAE comeback with two goals in two minutes before the break.
Abdulaziz Hatem rounded off a sharp attacking move more smashing the ball into the top corner, to make it 4-0 a scoreline that Qatar has registered on the last two occasions against the UAE.
Al Annabi was not content with four and grabbed a fifth in first-half stoppage time. Akram Afif picked out Almoez Ali again who poked the ball home, after initially being flagged offside VAR intervened to hand the Asian champions a 5-0 lead. The only fact more shocking than the scoreline was that Qatar had only registered 27% possession.
Bert van Marwijk rang the changes in the second half and it nearly paid off as Ali Mabkhout latched onto an errant pass from Qatar defender Bassam Al-Rawi, but the Al Jazira striker parried the shot well wide.
Qatar came close to a sixth with the game coming to a close as Boualem Khoukhi saw a header rattle off the crossbar. Whilst a second header from Khoukhi was cleared off the line just ten minutes later.
Control has been a big part of the Felix Sanchez philosophy with this team, and the hosts exhibited plenty in the second half. Perfectly holding off the UAE, and booked their place in the final four of the FIFA Arab Cup with ease.