Ali MAbkhout scored his 77th international goal for the UAE against Syria
Ali Mabkhout scored his 77th international goal for the UAE against Syria Image Credit: UAE FA Twitter

UAE striker Ali Mabkhout created a little bit of history on Tuesday night as he moved above Argentina’s Lionel Messi to become the second highest active goalscorer in the world behind Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo

The UAE drew their second Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A qualifier 1-1 with Syria on Tuesday night. Mabkhout grabbed the opener in Amman, with the Al Jazira striker scoring after 11 minutes.

The striker’s 77th international goal moves him above Messi and behind Ronaldo. The Manchester United new recruit is way out in front after he scored his 110th and 111th goals for Portugal in their 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland at the weekend — breaking the all-time goalscoring world record in the process.

The draw against Syria leaves the UAE third in Group A on two points, with Iran on top with six points, ahead of South Korea on four points.

South Korea recovered from the late withdrawal of Son Heung-min to defeat Lebanon 1-0. The Tottenham Hotspur star injured a calf in training on Monday and was deemed unfit to play.

Without Son, South Korea struggled against Lebanon goalkeeper Mostafa Matar. The deadlock was broken only on the hour, when Kwon Chang-hoon shot past Matar from close range to keep the Koreans on track for a 10th successive World Cup appearance.

Iran registered a 3-0 win over Iraq. Alireza Jahanbakhsh opened the scoring with a header in the second minute, Porto striker Mehdi Taremi added a second with 19 minutes remaining and Ali Gholizadeh sealed the victory in added time.

The top two from both six-team groups qualify automatically for the World Cup next year in Qatar. The third-place teams meet in a play-off and the winner faces an opponent from another confederation.