The UAE consolidated second spot with a strong 3-1 win over Thailand in Group G of their Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers on Monday night at Zabeel Stadium in Dubai.
Caio Canedo gave the hosts the perfect start as he found the back of the net with 14 minutes on the clock. Bert van Marwijk’s side continued to press the visitors back as they looked for a vital second goal before the break. And they were rewarded when Fabio Lima got his head on the end of a cross from Bandar Al Ahbabi and beat the goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen at the near post with 10 minutes to go until the interval.
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Thailand came roaring back in the second half, however, and pulled a goal back after 53 minutes when Suphanat Mueanta’s smart turn and finish left UAE goalkeeper and captain Ali Khaseif rooted to the spot.
The game continued to swing from end to end with both sides going close, including a glorious chance for UAE star striker Ali Mabkhout, but his effort found the side-netting. Mohammad Juma had a chance to really wrap things up as we approached the 90-minute mark, but his shot went narrowly over. Undeterred, the confident substitute made it 3-1 and secured the points deep in injury time and the fans began to party in the stands.
After the match, goalscorer Caio, who was born in Brazil but naturalised so he could represent the UAE, said: "I am so happy to help out the UAE tonight. I am so thankful to the fans for all the support they have given me and I am glad to repay them. Now we will go for that top spot in the group as that is our main goal."
Group G leaders Vietnam thrashed Indonesia 4-0 at Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai — all remaining games in the group are being played in the UAE due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nguyen Tien Linh, Nguyen Quang Heim Nguyen Cong Phuong and Vu Van Thanh all got on the scoresheet in a second-half deluge to move to 14 points from six games, two ahead of the UAE, with Thailand now a further three behind in third on nine points alongside Malaysia.