Dubai: The UAE rode on a fine second half hat-trick from Ali Mabkhout to power their way to a dominant 5-0 hammering of Indonesia in their Round Two match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification, late on Thursday.
After struggling to breach the Indonesian defence line for much of the opening half, the hosts went clear on a fortunate strike from Khalil Ebrahim in the 41st minute, while Ali Mabkhout took his personal tally up to five goals from two matches with his splendid hat-trick coming within 21 minutes to add to Indonesia’s misery with no points so far.
The three points puts the UAE on top of Group G with six from two matches while Thailand and Vietnam are tied with four points each followed by Malaysia (3 points) and Indonesia who are yet to open their account.
Earlier in Hanoi, in a re-match between 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup finalists it was a Nguyen Quang Hai goal in the 40th minute giving Vietnam a deserving first win in this campaign.
But in hot and humid Dubai, it was a slow start from both with hosts UAE moving the ball around well, but finding it tough to get past a well-organised Indonesian defence line. They finally managed to break off for the half-time with a one-goal cushion after Khalil Ebrahim was close at hand to toe in a high ball spilled by goalkeeper Wawan Hendrawan in the 41st minute.
The second half was all about the UAE and their talismanic striker Mabkhout. It took the Al Jazira man just six minutes to get his name on the scoresheet as he played a fine one-two with Khalil Ebrahim and then nicked in a crisp chip past an advancing Hendrawan to double the UAE advantage.
Mabkhout’s second came in the 63rd minute from the penalty spot after Indonesian skipper Hansamu Yama Pranata had handled a goalward bound shot from the lively Ali Saleh. Mabkhout then put the finishing touches on his hat-trick in the 72nd minute while running on a clever through ball from Ali Saleh to round off the goalkeeper and place inside an empty goal.
Substitute Tariq Ahmad was quickest to respond and tap in a ball spilled by the Indonesian goalkeeper off an Ahmad Khalil shot deep into injury period to complete the rout.
Indonesia next host Vietnam in Gianyar, while the UAE will travel to Pathum Thani for their away match against Thailand, on October 15.
UAE x Indonesia 5-0
Vietnam x Malaysia 1-0