Thursday, September 23, 2021

AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar: Lebanon deny UAE winning start at home

Dubai: The United Arab Emirates and Lebanon opened their Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar 2022 Group A campaign with a 0-0 draw at the Zabeel Stadium despite the home side dominating possession and chances throughout the entire 90 minutes.

UAE, seeking to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Finals for only the second time, will be disappointed with the result while Lebanon will walk talk after sealing their opening point of the campaign.

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Ali Khaseif was forced into a reaction save very early on when Hassan Maatouk received the ball in the penalty area and took a quick, low shot which the UAE ‘keeper met with supreme athleticism, with a retreating Fabio Lima on hand to clear the rebound before any further danger.

The home side created their first chance in front of goal beautifully though without the finishing touch to match. Record UAE scorer Ali Mabkhout played Mahmoud Khamis down the left flank, with the latter returning the favour with a low pass into the area that the Al Jazira striker fumbled out of play.

Mabkhout once again missed a golden chance to take his country ahead, when he was fed in down the middle by Lima but was presented with a difficult angle, his shot went wide to keeper Mostafa Matar’s relief.

Sharjah FC defender Shahin Abdulrahman missed a golden chance to put the UAE ahead, when Bandar Al Ahbabi whipped a corner towards the near post and Abdulrahman flicked it towards goal, but Matar was on hand to save as the home side upped the ante towards the end of the first period of play.

The best chance of the first half came deep into injury time, when Caio Canedo could not keep his shot down while flying into the penalty area to meet Al Ahbabi’s cross, a shot which came from agonisingly close range.

In the second half, and after a flurry of corners and failed attempts on goal, Mabkhout yet again came incredibly close to breaking the deadlock, this time cutting inside from the left flank and trying his luck from just outside the area, but his shot brushed the outside netting.

The UAE travel to Jordan to face Syria in five days’ time, while Lebanon will make a long trip to Korea Republic to face them on the same day.

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