Qatar edge Iran to set up AFC Asian Cup final with Jordan

The final is scheduled for February 10

By Web Desk
February 07, 2024
Qatar is hosting the tournament - AFP

Defending champions Qatar secured a spot in an Asian Cup final showdown with Jordan on February 10, prevailing 3-2 over Iran with an 82nd-minute winner in an exciting semi-final on Wednesday.

In Doha, Almoez Ali's goal propelled Qatar into their second consecutive final, further putting behind the disappointments of their first-round exit at the 2022 World Cup.

Sardour Azmoun gave Iran an early lead in the fourth minute, but Qatar swiftly equalised when Jassem Gaber's shot found the net via a heavy deflection.

Akram Afif extended Qatar's lead with a magnificent strike just before half-time, only for Iran to level the score through an Alireza Jahanbakhsh penalty early in the second half.

Match-winner Ali, who scored an Asian Cup-record nine goals to lead Qatar to their first title in 2019, had managed only one goal before the semi-finals of this year's tournament. His late strike proved decisive for Qatar and dashed Iran's hopes of winning their first Asian title since 1976.

Iran's Shojae Khalilzadeh was sent off in second-half injury time, and Jahanbakhsh hit the post in the final minute.

The game started with Azmoun giving Iran the lead with a well-taken finish, hooking the ball over his head and into the net.

Mehdi Taremi missed an opportunity to make it two when Jahanbakhsh set him up in front of goal, and Qatar capitalized with the equaliser in the 17th minute.

Afif pulled the ball back for Gaber, whose shot on goal deflected off Iran's Saeed Ezatolahi and looped over goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. Iran contested the lack of a foul in the build-up.

The equaliser injected new energy into Qatar, but Afif failed to capitalize on a one-on-one with Beiranvand just after the half-hour mark.

Afif made amends in the 43rd minute, scoring a superb curling shot after navigating his way into the box.

Iran regrouped at half-time and drew level just six minutes after the break. A VAR check confirmed that Qatar defender Ahmed Fatehi had blocked a goal-bound shot with his hand, and Jahanbakhsh converted the penalty.

The action continued at a rapid pace, and Ali restored Qatar's lead by controlling a shot from Abdulaziz Hatem and turning it past Beiranvand. Although there was a hint of offside, the goal was allowed to stand.