The quickest strike in tournament history propelled UAE to the next round, while Iran were backed by loud support at their match in Sydney. The two teams join Australia, South Korea and China in the quarter-finals.
Iranian players celebrate with supporters in the crowd following a goal during the Asian Cup game against Qatar
Ali Mabkhout scored the fastest goal in Asian Cup history after 14 seconds to fire the United Arab Emirates to a 2-1 win over Bahrain and a place in the knockout stages.
The win in Canberra gave the UAE their second win in successive matches at the tournament. The team’s attacking-midfielder Mabkhout has bagged three goals so far to make him the leading scorer in the competition.
Highly-rated Omar Abdulrahman, who was awarded the Man of the Match, delivered a sublime through ball and Mabkhout controlled with composure before sliding past the Bahrain keeper.
Jaycee Okwunwanne equalized for Bahrain in the 26th minute with a back-post header but an own goal from Mohamed Hasan handed the UAE all three points.
Iran also through
Meanwhile, Sardar Azmoun’s fantastic individual goal was hailed as “brilliant” by head coach Carlos Queiroz as Team Melli progressed with their second win on the bounce.
Iran’s Azmoun, who plays his club football with Rubin Kazan in Russia, manufactured space from nowhere on the edge of the box, weaving past defenders with skill and scoring the only goal of the match against Qatar.
“It was a great turn at the level of the best centre forwards I have worked with in my life” Queiroz said after the game.
Man of the match, Andranik Teymourian from Iran, said that the support from the crowd made the difference in the tight game.
“I want to thank all the Iranians in Australia who have been supporting the team,” he said. “The fact that we have the second biggest supporters after the Socceroos in Australia is an absolute privilege.”
UAE and Iran join Australia, South Korea and China in the next stages. The winner of the match between Japan and Iraq on Friday will be guaranteed a spot in the knockout rounds.
rd/al (AFP, AP, Reuters)