Abu Dhabi: A solitary second-half goal from Bassam Al Rawi saw Qatar edge out Iraq in extra time to enter the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup at the Al Nahyan Stadium on Tuesday.
The Maroon brigade will be now meeting South Korea, who defeated Bahrain 2-1 in a contest played earlier in the day at Rashid Stadium in Dubai.
Qatar started off with Abdelkarim Hassan hitting the bar with a right-footed shot from the centre of the box following a deflection from Iraq’s Amjed Attwan.
With every corner of the stadium occupied by the Mesopotamian fans, it didn’t take long for their side to gain in confidence. They started to keep possession of the ball and even raided Qatar's territory at will but failed to create a clear cut opportunity to get the breakthrough.
Iraq suffered a big setback when their mid-fielder Humam Tareq was forced to leave the field in tears due to what looked like a hamstring injury.
There were efforts from Iraq’s Ahmed Ibrahim and Mohanad Ali Kadhim but it didn’t bear fruit. And both teams went into the breather with the scoreboard reading nil-nil.
Qatar squandered a huge opportunity to take the lead after the change of ends.
Akram Hassan made a defense splitting run but lost control of the ball just as he was about to deliver the final touches.
The breakthrough, however, came in the 62nd minute through a set-piece after Hassan was brought down by Iraq’s Hussein Al Saedi.
Al Rawi then curled in and a free-kick over the defense wall with a right-footed shot into the left corner.
Then minutes later, a left-footed effort from Qatar’s Abdelaziz Hatim was brilliantly kept out by Iraq goalkeeper Jalal Hassan Hachim.
Iraq also managed a free-kick just outside the box in the 76th minute but that left-footed effort from Ali Adnan Kadhim went just wide. Immediately after that Iraq’s striker Mohanad Ali Kadhim failed to direct a header to perfection. Iraq’s Ahmed Ibrahim also tried to node home on a quick counter but that effort also went wide.
Iraq was clearly piling on the pressure by stealing few back-to-back free-kicks and corners but Qatar defense remained firm. They weathered the storm to hold on to their one goal edge till the end.