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Iraq sweat for thin win over Kuwait

Abdullah’s strike helps Lions of Mesopotamia book a spot in semis

Gulf News

Manama: Iraq eked out a 1-0 win over Kuwait in their second pool match in Group B at Khalifa Stadium yesterday for two wins on the trot and make the Gulf Cup semifinals yesterday. In nine games between the old foes, Iraq have now won four to Kuwait’s three with two draws.

The Lions of Mesopotamia went ahead before the half-hour mark when Younus Mahmoud broke down the left beating Fahad Al Ebrahim to cross. Mohammad Sanad appeared to clear the ball off the line but only as far as Hammadi Abdullah, who poked it back over.

It was awarded to Mahmoud, with the initial cross deemed to have crossed the line, but replays show Abdullah should feel rightfully dismayed to have been written off the score-sheet. The goal followed an earlier call for penalty by Iraq’s Mahmoud who feigned a trip over Masaed Al Enezi.

As the tackles flew in between the rivals, Iraq’s Saif Salman was knocked out by an accidental clash of heads with Kuwait’s Talal Al Enezi and Iraq’s Ali Erhaimah was booked for an elbow on Bader Al Motawaa.

Kuwait’s best first half chance to equalise only came from an edge-of-the area free kick after Ahmad Khalaf fouled Abdulhadi Khudhair seemingly inside the area.

Salman troubled Kuwait’s keeper early in the second half before Khudhair saw his chip inside the area tipped over Iraq’s posts.

Iraq then sat back and enticed but contained Kuwait into their half before a series of deft counters, which amounted to very little throughout large spells of the second half.

Nullified, Kuwait could barely breach the box, resorting to long balls, one such effort from Yousuf Al Sulaiman hitting the crossbar five minutes from time. Despite a last minute push, Kuwait couldn’t break their deadlock and Iraq celebrated qualification to the semi-finals.